The basic point that everyone should know by now is that the TPP had little to do with trade.
The United States already had trade deals with six of the 11 other countries in the pact. The trade barriers with the other five countries were already very low in most cases, so there was little room left for further trade liberalization in the TPP.
Instead, the main purpose of the TPP was to lock in place a business-friendly structure of regulation.
Let’s be clear. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement has not been killed by Donald Trump. Its likely demise is the culmination of a co-ordinated six-year education campaign across most of the 12 countries that has made it one of the most unpopular economic agreements ever to be negotiated.
The message is simple. Ordinary people feel alienated and disempowered by secretly negotiated deals that treat them as dispensable. Far from an agreement for the 21st century, the TPP belongs to the last century when governments in the grip of neoliberalism empowered corporations to rule, and the super rich became even richer at the expense of everyone else.
Bernie Sanders brought that agenda to the US election by denouncing the deal and calling for genuinely progressive alternatives. Trump echoed that call and a reluctant Hillary Clinton followed suit. But Trump is no Bernie Sanders. His election is no cause to celebrate, even for opponents of the TPP. What he considers a trade agreement acceptable to America is likely to be even more toxic.
Distaste for Trump cannot disguise the message that underpins his victory, the Brexit vote, the backlash against international investment treaties, and the paralysis of other mega-regional agreements between the US and EU and the EU and Canada. Failure to look for genuine alternatives makes the ostrich-like stance of our Government and others who are already plotting their next moves down the same dead-end highway all the more dangerous.