US President-elect Donald Trump’s has reiterated his campaign stance of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement which might have serious strategic ramifications for India as well.
Let us look at it from a general perspective
What is Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Trans-Pacific Partnership is one of the most ambitious free trade deal ever negotiated between developed and developing countries of the Pacific region and beyond.
Trans-Pacific Partnership | Ratification
Member countries have two years to ratify the pact which involves higher labour standards, intellectual property rights, environmental rules among other issues. None of the 12 countries (except Japan) have completed the ratification process so far.
The text of the agreement has to be signed and then ratified by all 12 signatories. Details of how the deal will be implemented would be argued out in individual countries’ legislatures. To take effect, the deal has to be ratified by February 2018 by at least six countries that account for 85% of the group’s economic output. And this means that Japan and the US will need to be on board.
Why Mr. Donald Trump opposed this deal?
Mr. Trump has campaigned very hard against this push for globalisation and adopted a protectionist yet populist stance for it. He believes that TPP will hurt American workers and US companies. He has been riding the wave of protectionism and xenophobia that has swept both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in the recent past, simply ignoring Obama’s pivot to Asia.
Trans-Pacific Partnership | Advantages
The regional trade agreement unleashes the true potential of globalisation in the form of free cross-border movement of key factors of economic activity, such as goods, money, people and information. Hence, it has the potential to dramatically push the economic growth and people’s living standards in the member countries, especially in the developing countries.
Trans-Pacific Partnership | Criticisms
- The TPP would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of expression, right to privacy and due process, as well as hindering peoples’ abilities to innovate.
- There is an argument that TPP suffers from a serious lack of transparency, threatens to impose more stringent copyright without public input, and pressures foreign governments to adopt unbalanced laws.
- Legal critics also claim that TPP paves the way for companies to sue governments under the arbitration laws, which threatens the sovereignty of member countries.
- Opponents of TPP fear movement of jobs from the US to developing countries which is yet another boon for a protectionist voter of the United States. The TPP will also intensify competition between countries’ labour forces.
Trans-Pacific Partnership | Implications for India
The demise of TPP threatens the US ‘pivot’ to Asia that carried India-Japan-US security cooperation too. Chinese economic gains at the cost of United States would turn the tables for both India and Japan in Asia.
- TPP was an important instrument of realpolitik for India (non-member) as it sought to counter the rise of an assertive China both in terms of economic as well as security architecture.
- In the rebalancing of its resources in Asia-Pacific, the US’ “Pivot to Asia” and India’s “Act East” policies coalesce. US saw India’s role as the “lynchpin” of its rebalancing strategy.
- India was reinvigorating its ties with Asian powers like Japan and Australia that has rattled China greatly. All that goes into a limbo with an apparent fall of the economic angle to the US strategic rebalance towards Asia.
With the apparent fall of the TPP shield, India gets an upper hand in securing free trade deals with the member countries of the TPP. Moreover, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is under negotiation should not adopt lackadaisical approach towards its conclusion, otherwise a good opportunity to reorder domestic laws according to the international standards and seamless trade among the member countries might get a miss.