Monday, January 23, 2017

"A Giant Gift to China."

It makes you wonder about the Giant Orange Bloat's "thought envirnoment."

Today in TrumpLand, the order of the day was the presidential decree withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership.

A Japanese news service reported China is stepping into the vacuum with a new trade deal,  a lot like the doomed TPP, only this time the odd man out will be the United States.

Foreign Policy has voiced the same opinion, from an American perspective of course.

Now the Australians are calling Trump's blunder the same way:

As the Trump administration retreats from the region by ending US participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, China's Communist leaders are ramping up their globalisation efforts and championing the virtues of free trade.

In an address last week to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Chinese president Xi Jinping likened protectionism to "locking oneself in a dark room" and signalled that China would look to negotiate regional trade deals.

China is advocating for a 16-nation pact called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that excludes the United States and lacks some of the environmental and labour protections Obama negotiated into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Xi and other Chinese leaders are also looking to fill the US leadership vacuum, taking advantage of Trump's protectionism to boost ties with traditional US allies like the Philippines and Malaysia.

"The US is now basically in a position where we had our horse, the Chinese had their horse - but our horse has been put out to pasture and is no longer running in the race," said Eric Altbach, vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group in Washington and a former deputy assistant US Trade Representative for China Affairs.

Senator John McCain railed against Trump's stupidity.

US withdrawal from the pact "will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers," McCain said. "And it will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it."

Obama saw TPP as "much more than an agreement that would increase international trade," according to Jack Thompson, a senior researcher at the Centre for Security Studies in Zurich.

But Trump's withdrawal "directly undermines all of this careful work and gives China yet another opportunity to demonstrate that it represents the future of the security and economic system in East Asia, and that the US is in decline and can't be counted on to stick around," Thompson said.

China's 16-nation RECP would include southeast Asia countries, as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

It's said that RECP won't force member states to rejig their economies, impair labour or environmental regulations or surrender control of intellectual property rights. It sounds a lot like TPP only a lot less offensive.

Leaders from Australia, Malaysia, and other nations who had championed TPP quickly signalled, following Trump's election, that they would shift their attention to the RECP.


John B. said...

"The TPP is horrible deal. It's a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone. …

"If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States -- China in particular, because they're so good. It's the No. 1 abuser of this country. And if you look at the way they take advantage, it's through currency manipulation. It's not even discussed in the almost 6,000-page agreement."

- Trump (Nov 2015)

I wonder if Trump remembers that China wasn’t a party to the TPP, as Rand Paul advised him when he made these statements. Of course, he was only running to be President at the time; now he are one.

The Mound of Sound said...

The art of the deal, John. The art of the deal. Did you see the video of Trump signing the TPP withdrawal? His signature looks like an electrocardiogram of a patient having a coronary.

Anonymous said...

The TPP is/was a terrible trade deal that only increased corporatism. It gave too many rights without any of the responsibilities. Is it such a bad thing that "the Giant Orange Bloat" has nixed it? No.

It seems that some, blinded by hyperpartisanship, seem to forget that the TPP was awful.

I believe that even Mound was against it.

For a previous post on this site:
"Dr. Stiglitz' advice to Trudeau is that the Trans Pacific Partnership may well be the worst trade deal ever and Canada would do well to turn it down and, at a minimum, demand to renegotiate its terms."

So TPP is dead - good.
Who really cares how this was achieved? Or will this be different because Trump effectively killed this awful deal?

Hugh said...

World trade depends on shipping by ocean and air, both of which methods are fossil fuel-based and emit lots of GHGs.

Transport of goods on land can be done by clean electric rail, but I don't see how large-scale ocean and air transport can be done without fossil fuel, although sail and nuclear power are both options.

Hugh said...

Reducing GHGs means reducing world trade, which means shrinking GDP, which is the thing governments and central banks are most afraid of.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, I was and am against TPP. From a Canadian perspective I'm glad it's apparently over. What these posts are attempting to point out is that the TPP was much more than a trade deal. For the United States, primarily, and the smaller Asian states, secondarily, it was intended to reinforce their geopolitical alignment while keeping those nations out of Chinese domination. It was supposed to be a pan-Asia confidence builder in the security of the American presence. It was also designed to give Washington an economic weapon to help restrain Chinese expansion and, without it, the U.S. is left with only the military option.

That's the point that all of these linked articles - from Japan, the U.S. and Australia - demonstrate. Yes, it's a trade deal but I'm not even sure that was its primary objective as far as the key players were involved.

In the narrow sense, sure I'm glad it's gone. In the larger sense I'm not so sure especially now that China has moved to implement its own pan-Asia deal that will exclude the U.S. Read the linked articles.

The Mound of Sound said...

I agree, Hugh, but this post really has nothing to do with carbon emissions. It's about geopolitics.

Toby said...

I think it appalling to use a trade deal as a means to bully an opponent. Essentially, Mound, you are telling us that the TPP was an act of war. The world has some serious problems that desperately need addressing but the larger countries prefer to play another round in the Great Game. They are all disgusting. I give them no credit.

Northern PoV said...

I am amused as an Anon takes you on re your (supposed) TTP flip flop.

The tRump effect is to cause mass confusion...
(Red-baiting from the left and right while debating whether or not Russia belongs to the white-boys-club.)

I was (am) very critical of Clinton. My brother assumed I supported tRump.

I do think tRump was a useful idiot: calling out the Bush lies on Iraq and questioning the hyper-war-machine NATO has become.

But any of this tRump 'good stuff" has been left behind on the campaign and if there was any doubt about tRump's intentions, his cabinet picks have put those to rest.

Possible scenarios with tRump: (in order of likelihood)

Nuclear War - end game.
Localized war - bad.
Bluster and more bluster. A bad 4 years. then status quo
Bluster and major civic vandalism leading to violent (or electoral) uprising bringing a socialized attempt at surviving climate change.
Bluster and major civic vandalism leading to President Pence & dictatorship

The Mound of Sound said...

Jesus, Toby, on what planet have you been living? The US government, like all powerful states, uses a variety of means, violent and non-violent, to impose its will on other states.

The West has been doing just that with the Russians since, well since they became Russians. The eastward expansion of NATO and the EU, what do you imagine those were about?

Do you recall TAPI, the pipeline that Dick Cheney was feverishly championing before become Bush's puppet master? That was the Trans Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline intended to channel Caspian basin oil and gas south of Russia's reach and on to Europe. The idea was to diminish Europe's energy dependence on Russia.

Remember how America went courting India? That was about the containment of China, especially across the Indian Ocean. It was about creating a choke point that could be used to block Chinese access to Middle East oil.

That whole South Asia business degenerated into wheels spinning within wheels. Same for the Middle East. Look how America sided with Sunni Islam in some places and Shiite Islam in others. Schizophrenic.

These geopolitical games are speeding up now that the international order is in decline. In times past it was the formula that led nations to back into wars. Wars of inadvertence that could be as deadly as any other type of war. Shit happens.

The Mound of Sound said...

NPoV, what I fear most about Trump is his arrogance. He believes reality to be whatever he imagines it to be. That leads to acting on compulsion. It's a vulnerability that's enticing, almost irresistible to America's rivals and its adversaries. It's also why I believe that Trump's presidency has painted a bullseye on America's back for terrorist attacks.

Look at 9/11. It was estimated to have cost al Qaeda somewhat shy of half a million to execute. Yet it's drained three trillion from the US treasury already which is estimated to grow to seven trillion by 2050. Add to that the political damage inflicted on the US in the Muslim world, including its loss of hegemony, and the costs are unknowable.

If the bad guys can get that much mileage out of Bush/Cheney, what must they imagine they can reap out of goading the Great Orange Bloat?

Your list of scenarios is interesting but we're all guessing at this point.

Anonymous said...

Anyong....Mound my friend in South Korea says, "most S. Koreans are now worried at what China will do" now that the Americans will no longer be part of the TPP". She said, "China will want their own economic rules at the expense of S. Korean workers".

Purple library guy said...

The funny thing about Trump and the TPP is that it was apparently dead anyway whether he signed something or not. So the whole tempest is over whether he gains PR from a publicity stunt appearing to keep a campaign promise or loses PR from a "blunder" appearing to cost the US prestige -- even though in substantive terms he did nothing at all either way.

Overall I'd say if his image takes a hit it will still be a smaller one than if Congress or the Senate had killed it while he was attempting, counter to his campaign claims, to pass it. If he looks like a fool for "killing" the TPP--well, everyone already knew that. So it's better than looking like a flip-flopping weakling failing to get his way, which would be his other option.