Trump withdraws from TPP leaving remaining members to salvage deal

As one of Donald Trump's first acts as President he followed through on one of his leading campaign promises and has officially backed out of the previously US lead TPP deal. The decision is sending shock waves throughout the international community as countries wonder where to turn next and if they can salvage the deal. Back home however US citizens are divided on the issue with some farmers seeing it as a sign of a better future while others are disappointed at the lost increase in exports the deal promised.

The move has reassured Trump supporters who see the decision as a promise for a future looking at "America First" which Trump campaigned on. Washington for instance eyes better trade deals for agriculture as Trump nixes trade deal. The Washington potato industry for instance is looking long term believes that deals made individually for each country will bring better deals for farmers.

Matt Harris, director of government affairs for the Washington State Potato Commission, said it is heartened by the president’s interest in developing bilateral trade agreements with individual nations in place of the multi-nation TPP deal.

“Formally withdrawing from TPP is not surprising given the president’s stated commitment,” he said in a statement. “However, I am glad that President Trump also emphasized today the importance of trade and negotiating effective trade deals. I look forward to working with the president on fair deals that will increase trade opportunities that benefit American workers and exporters.”

Not everyone in Washington is happy with the demise of the deal however, the Washington Policy center which is a statewide policy think tank looked forward to TPP and predicted that it would increase income of U.S. agriculture by $4.4 billion.

“That’s what the TPP agreement could have done,” said Madi Clark, the Kennewick-based agricultural research director for the policy center. “It’s definitely a disappointment. There’s no hiding that.”

Californian farmers in San Joaquin Valley are also disappointed as they expected the deal to increase exports and profits. According to the American Farm Bureau estimated that Californian fruit and nut farmers would have benefited from the deal by seeing a $562 million increase in sales thanks to the lower and removed tariffs.

“It’s a disappointment,” said Jim Zion, managing partner of Meridian Growers in Clovis, a grower and marketing company specializing in tree nuts. “Trade is a big issue for agriculture.”

The plan was also expected to increase trade with Vietnam and Japan who is already the countries fourth-largest export market. Vietnam were to reduce tariffs that are currently as high as 35% while Japan was to reduce their tariffs on fruits.

While the deal is done in the United States some foreign governments are looking to salvage the deal if possible. Australia has spoken its support for keeping the deal alive and even named the new deal 'TPP 12 minus one' in jest. The country plan to forge ahead however even with the main force behind the deal, the US gone.

Steve Ciobo, the trade minister of Australia said he would not abandon TPP just because things got a little tougher and plans on fighting for it.

"I've had conversations with Canada, with Mexico, with Japan, with New Zealand, with Singapore, Malaysia," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) from New York on Monday.

"I know that there's been conversations that have been had with Chile and with Peru. So there's quite a number of countries that have an interest in looking to see if we can make a TPP 12 minus one work," Mr Ciobo said.

As for New Zealand, New Zealand International Business Forum executive director Stephen Jacobi stated that it wouldn't affect consumers in the country accessing US products as their were already few barriers from their entry. The problem was New Zealand's ability to trade globally which the deal promised to aid.

Trade Minister Todd McClay expects that the remaining members will come together in the coming months to keep the deal alive and find a way forward without the United States involvement.

While they await however, they plan to continue making bilateral free trade deals like last week, when Mr McClay confirmed New Zealand and Sri Lanka would move ahead with discussions on new trade and investment opportunities, including a free trade agreement between the two countries.

Over in Asia, China's President Xi Jinping defended free trade and called out the new President, however not by name, stating that protectionism was akin to "locking oneself in a dark room". Some saw the move as China looking to take the opportunity to fill the void the US has left.

While China left out of the TPP deal they are still looking to make a counterpart in Asia. They are currently working towards an agreement of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which would see free trade between China, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand.


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