How can Obama explain the failure of the TPP?
Obama’s visit to the APEC summit may be a complicated one, as he will have to demonstrate commitment to strengthen free trade across the pacific, despite the fact that the biggest stride towards this avail, the TPP, has next to no chance of holding up.
The TPP was the keystone in Obama’s attempted ‘pivot to Asia’, with which he intended to focus US foreign policy in Asia and away from the Middle East. The ‘pivot’ failed as the US still holds a stake in several Middle East conflicts, and the failure to implement the TPP before the end of his term means its fate is now in the hands of Donald Trump, who will likely discard it.
Obama will have an extra hard time defending the TPP when his Chinese rivals show up at the APEC summit. President Xi Jinping has been keen to cater to Latin America, and China, which was not a part of the TPP, will now get to present its alternative trade proposal in an important stage.
The ‘counter-TPP’ proposed by China, which goes by the name of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), claims to have ‘lower standards’ and ‘less protection measures’. This will surely become an enticing deal for many Latin American economies who saw a means to success in the TPP and have now lost all hope.
In addition to the APEC summit, President Obama will hold an official meeting with Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in which the future of the TPP will surely be discussed at length.