Turnbull trusts in a Trump TPP turnaround

Delegates protesting against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement hold up signs during the first sesssion of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich - RTSJLKA

With Asia Pacific leaders reaffirming their commitment to free trade at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru, Malcolm Turnbull is “confident” that US president elect Donald Trump will “see the light” and do an about turn on his protectionist stance against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Currently it looks to be headed for the gutters with Trump pledging to not ratify it and the American Congress abandoning plans to do so even before Trump is inaugurated come January 20 2017.

However the Australian Financial Review reported Turnbull mentioned that previous US presidents like Obama and Clinton had changed their minds over similar trade deals in the past including the current TPP.

“Barrack Obama was not a supporter of the TPP when he became elected and he’s leaving office as one of its greatest advocates,” Turnbull told reporters in Lima, Peru.

Coincidentally, according to AFR, the US is projected to be the biggest winner from the pact with estimated projected economic gains of between US$57 billion and $131 billion.

But as things are going, the TPP is unlikely to be a priority for Trump when he arrives at the White House on January 20. Tax reform, infrastructure investment, unwinding Obama’s healthcare insurance expansion and border security are his stated priorities.

Even if he decides to revive the TPP, the Republican-controlled Congress has refused to pass TPP for President Obama previously, so it will be a long work in progress.

This is because the Republicans want to protect the clinical trial data of biologic drugs for up to 12 years to shut out cheaper copycat medicines for longer, not the five years Australia and developing economies agreed to.

Meanwhile, Turnbull has reaffirmed Australia’s position against trade protectionism at the Peru summit by saying that the country reaffirms its commitment to keep its markets open and to fight off all forms of protectionism “through a standstill commitment” that they will extend up to 2020.

“Free trade has delivered jobs in Australia – right across the board – in services, tourism, education, professional services and of course in all of the goods exports.”