Vietnamese lawmakers who were at the brink of ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have now shelved it. “The United States has announced it suspends the submission of TPP to the parliament so there are not sufficient conditions for Vietnam to submit its proposal for ratification,” explained Viet Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
Cambodia’s Labour Ministry too welcomed President-Elect Donald Trump’s promise to kill the TPP. The Labour Ministry’s spokesman Heng Sour said on 10 Nov that the pullout by the Americans would restore the Cambodian garment sector’s competitiveness in the region. Sour believes that the dismantling of TPP would neutralise any trade advantages for its rival Vietnam.
TPP signed in February by 12-member states – including the US, Japan, Canada, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore – was expected to liberalise trade among signatory nations once ratified by the member states.
Trump was exceptionally harsh to the TPP in the lead-up to his election on 9 Nov, describing it as “another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country – just a continuing rape of our country.”
Peru, another TPP-member-country which signed the trade pact believes that with the US pulling out of the agreement, a new trade deal could be forged with China to replace the United States.
Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski speaking to Russian media on 11 Nov said: “It can be replaced with a similar deal, but without the United States. I think it’d be best to have an Asia-Pacific deal that includes China, and includes Russia as well…it’d have to be a new negotiation.”
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong however believes that it would not be easy to revise the terms of the deal to exclude the US and include countries such as China.
“We spent five, six years negotiating the TPP. Finally we got this very elaborate, carefully balanced deal, several thousand pages of texts. It’s not so easy to say ‘We change the terms’,” he said in speaking to the press from Indonesia earlier this week.
Adding: “What are you going to change? Who is going to give up more or less and what is the balance? And if you bring in a new country, it’s a completely new deal all together. So effectively you’ll be talking about a new exercise. Because a new country – particularly if it’s a big one – it’s not going to sign on to everything which has already been agreed before they were participants.”
Mr Lee pointed out that it is premature to pursue very definite alternative possibilities for now. “Let’s first assess how everybody feels and what they think could be done as a practical, second-best or solution for the time being,” he said.
PM Lee in expressing his disappointment that the TPP looks very unlikely to be passed before 21 Jan when the new American president swears in, noted that Trump had no sympathy for TPP on his campaign trail.