New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has suggested that world leaders hoping to change President-elect Donald Trump's mind on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could convince him by making one simple change: slap the business mogul’s name on the trade deal.
On Nov. 20, leaders of the Pacific Rim gathered to discuss the future of trade at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting in Lima, Peru. During the summit, several leaders expressed hope that President-elect Trump could be convinced into supporting TPP, a trade deal that he had emphatically opposed on the campaign trail.
Prime Minister Key quipped that APEC could sweeten the deal for the business mogul by naming the trade deal after him.
“The Trump Pacific Partnership for instance, that’d be fine,” Key said, according to The Guardian.
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The New Zealand prime minister added that while his country valued U.S. involvement in the Pacific Rim, they would shift their trade relations to China if President-elect Trump follows through on jettisoning TPP.
China is currently hammering out a trade deal that would encompass over a dozen Pacific Rim nations while cutting out U.S. involvement. The deal is called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
President Barack Obama had been championing TPP as a competing trade deal. The TPP would involve 12 Pacific Rim countries while excluding China. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that his country would prefer TPP over RCEP, but that his country would settle for China’s trade relations if the Trump administration cancels the trade deal.
“The more access we can get to more markets for our exports, the better,” Turnbull said.
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Throughout the presidential race, Trump has been a fierce critic of TPP, describing it as a “disaster… pushed by special interests who want to rape our country.”
Following Trump’s election on Nov. 8, the consensus among U.S. lawmakers has been that the TPP will be scrapped. On Nov. 10, the incoming Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New Yorker, told labor leaders that the TPP was dead, The Washington Post reports.
The trade deal will not be considered by Congress during the remaining months of President Obama’s term, leaving its fate entirely to President-elect Trump. Members of APEC believe that the business mogul may still come around on the trade pact.
“Barack Obama was not a supporter of the TPP when he became elected and he’s leaving office as one of its greatest advocates,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.
On Nov. 21, a leaked organization chart from the Trump presidential transition team included former lobbyist Rolf Lundberg of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the business mogul’s potential trade reform appointee, fueling speculation that the President-elect may walk back his stance on TPP, USA Today reports.
Lundberg has previously lobbied in favor of TPP. His alleged appointment to the Trump administration could signal that the President-elect may not be ready to shut the door on the trade deal.
Both Lundberg and the Trump transition team declined to comment on the alleged leak.