Friday, July 1, 2022

Little chance of CPTPP progress with US

The Prime Minister’s support for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in a meeting in the White House appears unlikely to bear fruit, according to trade experts in this country.

The issue arose in comments to the media alongside President Joe Biden in the White House.  

Ardern first praised Biden’s leadership in bringing to the table the 13-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

She then said New Zealand was a “significant advocate” for the CPTPP.  

But this appears to have fallen on deaf ears.  

A White House official made no mention of the CPTPP in prepared remarks to the media later and mentioned it briefly in passing later.

“The Prime Minister has made her views very clear,” the official said, before going on to talk generally about the “importance of economic engagement”.

The US originally agreed to an earlier incarnation of the CPTTP during the Obama administration, but pulled out during the Trump administration.  

President Biden has made no attempt to reverse this and pushed trade a long way down his agenda during his first year in office.  

So the latest CPTPP non-event comes as no surprise to long time trade analyst and dissenter, Jane Kelsey.  

“People need to remember that President Obama could not get the original TPP through Congress because of deep-seated opposition from the Democrats.” she said.

“Since then you not only had President Trump criticising the CPTPP but you had Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton coming on board.   

“The politics on both sides are not going to favour the resuscitation of that deal in its non diluted form.”

‘Biden has made it clear he is listening to those (critical) voices.”  

Another trade expert has expressed disappointment at the lack of progress towards Americian readmission to the CPTPP.  

Stephen Jacobi is a fomer diplomat and head of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

‘New Zealand remains interested in US involvement in the CPTPP …. and so having no reference to this in the final communique is a wee bit disappointing frankly,”  Jacobi said.  

He went on to agree that the politics of the CPTPP were very difficult in the US but there was no reason for New Zealand not to push that at every opportunity.

“In fact the Prime Minister has been doing that while she has been in the United States, so I am a bit mystified about why it did not appear in the final communique.”  

The US is New Zealand’s third largest export market after China and Australia, with earnings of more than $7.1 billion in the year to April.

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