TPP struggles in Congress

23 October 2015 2:09 pm

It now looks like the Trans-Pacific Partnership is teetering in Congress.

First we had Hillary Clinton voicing her opposition to the TPP she had once supported, no doubt in response to her closest rival Bernie Sanders. Clinton has cited two of the most common objections to the deal among left-leaning critics: it's too favourable to pharmaceutical companies, and it doesn't include language prohibiting other countries from manipulating their currencies to gain a trade advantage.

Given that only a handful of Democrats support it, Barack Obama is counting on getting GOP support to push it through Congress but that’s not assured. The Republicans are split on the deal with Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump railing against it. That’s understandable: they’re facing a populist conservative base suspicious of the agreement, particularly one championed by Obama.

All this has put Obama into damage control mode as he seeks to shore up Democrat support.
All up, the TPP will struggle to get through Congress. Leading presidential candidates and congressional leaders have expressed opposition or serious reservations. An election year is not the time for controversial legislation, and the TPP is just too controversial.

Meanwhile, Japan is unlikely to secure approval for the TPP this year with lawmakers too caught up with other issues.

Canada is no certainty either. It had strong support from Stephen Harper but he’s gone and Justin Trudeau has pledged to examine the agreement carefully. He's not convinced.

All this goes to the basic problem with the TPP. You can’t negotiate global agreements in secret behind closed doors and expect lawmakers around the world to get behind it.
For Barack Obama, it was a bad gamble.