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Matthew Goodman, senior vice president and holder of the Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discusses the prospects of the Biden Administration bringing the U.S. back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Don’t expect the U.S. under President Biden to seek an immediate return to what is now officially called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. “I think they have other priorities,” Goodman says. “In the first year, it’s going to be all about the pandemic and rebuilding at home.” In addition, he notes, Biden has expressed some reservations in the past about large trade agreements.
That said, the logic of the U.S. rejoining TPP is still “very powerful,” although President Biden can be expected to seek certain changes in the agreement as it stands, especially in the areas of labor and environmental standards. He might also demand language preventing TPP members from engaging in currency manipulation as a form of trade advantage. That issue isn’t a good fit with trade agreements, Goodman believes, but nevertheless could reflect the Biden Administration’s agenda of focusing less on advancing corporate interests and more on the impact of a trade agreement on American workers.
There could also be some controversy over language in the TPP that allows businesses to sue governments for perceived discrimination. Japan and Australia might be open to eliminating or weakening language allowing for investor-state dispute settlements, but smaller and less-developed members of TPP might object to such a change, Goodman says.
Further incentivizing the U.S. to return to TPP might be a desire to counter the growing influence in the region of China, which is not a party to the agreement. And it could be part of a larger push by the Biden Administration to focus on multilateral trade treaties, Goodman says.
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