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.

沒有美國的《跨太平洋夥伴關係協定》(Trans-Pacific Partnership,簡稱TPP)或許看起來像沒有王子的《哈姆雷特》(Hamlet)。當初正是美國塑造了TPP。相關談判在2010年啟動,美國加入一項現有貿易協定,並將其大幅擴充,最終納入的成員國佔到了全球國內生產總值(GDP)約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.

同樣是美國推動許多條款被列入,包括保護跨境數據流動和制約扭曲貿易的國有企業,使得TPP有別於更早的優惠貿易協定。儘管如此,在唐納德•特朗普(Donald Trump)今年決定讓美國退出TPP後,剩下的11個成員國周末決定在沒有美國的情況下推進這項貿易協定。

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.

最終,加拿大同意加入。它設法將該協定更名為更加空洞(也更加拗口)的「全面且先進的TPP」(Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership),並去掉它不喜歡的一些知識產權條款。碰巧,這很可能是一個積極發展。知識產權協議最好遠離此類協定,尤其是因為它們在開放貿易的同時,往往也會限制貿易。

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.

或許他們可以推進的最有用路徑是假定有朝一日理智將回歸華盛頓的貿易政策,美國可以重新加入。沒有王子的《哈姆雷特》可能剛好值得一看。畢竟,湯姆•斯托帕德(Tom Stoppard)曾圍繞兩個次要角色——羅森克蘭茨(Rosencrantz)和吉爾德斯特恩(Guildenstern)——的故事,創作了一部廣受好評的戲劇(儘管是一部喜劇)。但中心人物的回歸將使這一敘事更有意義。