Leader - TPP after Trump: and then there were 11


The Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US may seem like Hamlet without the prince. When talks began in 2010, it was the US that fashioned the TPP by joining an existing trade deal and hugely expanding it, eventually recruiting countries whose economies make up about 40 per cent of global gross domestic product.

没有美国的《跨太平洋伙伴关系协定》(Trans-Pacific Partnership,简称TPP)或许看起来像没有王子的《哈姆雷特》(Hamlet)。当初正是美国塑造了TPP。相关谈判在2010年启动,美国加入一项现有贸易协定,并将其大幅扩充,最终纳入的成员国占到了全球国内生产总值(GDP)约40%。

It was also the US that drove forward many of the provisions, including protecting cross-border data flows and constraining trade-distorting state-owned enterprises, that mark out the TPP from earlier preferential trade agreements. Nonetheless, following Donald Trump’s decision this year to pull the US out of the deal, the remaining 11 countries at the weekend decided to go ahead on their own.

同样是美国推动许多条款被列入,包括保护跨境数据流动和制约扭曲贸易的国有企业,使得TPP有别于更早的优惠贸易协定。尽管如此,在唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)今年决定让美国退出TPP后,剩下的11个成员国周末决定在没有美国的情况下推进这项贸易协定。

The consequences of the US president’s go-it-alone approach has been evident throughout his trip to Asia, which comes to an end on Tuesday. The trip has featured plenty of sweeping rhetoric about rebalancing trade across the pacific.


Substantive agreements or even statements on a way forward have been absent, however. The reason is simple. Once again, in his marquee Asian trade speech, Mr Trump emphasised his key priority: reducing US trade deficits. His preferred tools are bilateral agreements, in which the US would usually be the stronger party, rather than plurilateral ones in which the US is but one among many. Unsurprisingly, US trade partners are not lining up to be pushed around.


Even so, it was never a given that the other parties to the TPP would push on regardless. Greater access to the huge American market was always one of the attractions that persuaded countries such as Japan to make difficult concessions to liberalise their own industries — in Japan’s case, to put its cosseted farmers under more pressure by allowing in higher quotas of imports.


Indeed, at the end of last week it seemed that the deal had stalled at the last minute because of Canadian reluctance to join in. Canada’s ambivalence about the deal is easy to explain. Not only had it never liked some of its provisions, including stricter rules enforcing intellectual property rights, or IPR, but — along with Mexico — Canada is in the middle of a politically-charged renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Ottawa can be forgiven for not embarking on a new initiative that might cut across its existing talks.


In the end, Canada agreed to come along. It managed to change the name of the deal to the rather fluffier, if more unwieldy, Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and to take out some of the IPR provisions it disliked. As it happens, this is probably a positive development. IPR agreements are best kept out of such agreements, not least because they often do as much to restrict trade as to set it free.

最终,加拿大同意加入。它设法将该协定更名为更加空洞(也更加拗口)的“全面且先进的TPP”(Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership),并去掉它不喜欢的一些知识产权条款。碰巧,这很可能是一个积极发展。知识产权协议最好远离此类协定,尤其是因为它们在开放贸易的同时,往往也会限制贸易。

Renegotiating the deal without the US will not be a simple matter of doing a “find and delete” through the document. It relies on a web of bilateral trade-offs to construct the whole. Still, the fact that the remaining 11 are willing to try is a positive development.


Perhaps the most useful way they could proceed is to assume that, one day, sanity will return to Washington’s trade policy and the US can rejoin. Hamlet without the prince may just about be worth watching. After all, Tom Stoppard constructed an acclaimed play — albeit a comedy — around the doings of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two of the minor characters. But the narrative will make far more sense with the central character back in place.

或许他们可以推进的最有用路径是假定有朝一日理智将回归华盛顿的贸易政策,美国可以重新加入。没有王子的《哈姆雷特》可能刚好值得一看。毕竟,汤姆•斯托帕德(Tom Stoppard)曾围绕两个次要角色——罗森克兰茨(Rosencrantz)和吉尔德斯特恩(Guildenstern)——的故事,创作了一部广受好评的戏剧(尽管是一部喜剧)。但中心人物的回归将使这一叙事更有意义。