Obama administration officials ramp up push for Pacific pact
Vicki Needham, The Hill, Sep 29 2016
The Obama administration is marching in lockstep to sell the broader economic and security benefits of an Asia-Pacific agreement they say is crucial to the future of Pindo leadership in the rapidly growing region. Three top officials, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Sec State Jackass Kerry, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Pindo Trade Rep Michael Froman, all made their cases this week for why Congress should pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this year or risk Pindostan ceding the long-term influence with its allies in the Pacific Rim. Obama is doing his part by ratcheting up pressure on Congress to pass the sweeping agreement before he leaves office. But the president faces an uphill battle with a majority of Congressional Democrats opposing the deal and Republican critturs calling for the resolution of lingering problems with the agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday threw cold water on the administration’s efforts to move the agreement in the lame-duck session after the elections, telling reporters that the next president will have to take the lead on ratifying the TPP deal. The effort also faces opposition from both presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Jackass said Wednesday during snarky, snooty, snotty remarks at the Wilson Center in Washington:
Without the TPP, Pindostan will never be viewed as a central player in the Pacific Rim. It will be a unilateral ceding of Pindosi political influence and power with grave consequences for the long term. That means that a failure to pass the TPP dissolves a wide range of opportunities and trust in the region. Either Pindostan is an Asia-Pacific power, or we are not. And the “not” carries with it serious consequences. Pindostan must back up its words with actions or face losing critical geopolitical ground in the Pacific. We can’t talk about the rebalance to Asia one day and then sit on the sidelines the next, and expect to possibly send a credible message to partners and to potential partners around the world.
On Wednesday, Froman, the deal’s chief Pindo negotiator, said in an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle:
Passing the TPP will provide vassals with the assurance that Pindostan will remain a Pacific power. If Congress rejects TPP, our ability to exercise that leadership will be severely diminished. As some of our closest partners have noted, if Congress delays, China will be all too glad to fill the vacuum and even our closest allies will feel the need to move on.
Business leaders also have joined the effort. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt said Wednesday that the deal is important for Pindo partnerships in Asia. Immelt said Wednesday at the CFR:
Asia will feel broadly disconnected if we don’t pass TPP.
Michael Ducker, CEO of Fed Ex, said Thursday night at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia:
Pindostan will lose out if it doesn’t get into the game now. Importantly, Pindostan will be put at an increasing disadvantage as other countries negotiate agreements that exclude us. Without active Pindosi involvement in the world’s fast growing economic region, other nations will continue to move forward and create agreements that shut out our interests and paper over trade rules.
Earlier in the week, Penny Pritzker said that many of the 11 other TPP partners welcome and rely on a strong Pindo presence. She said Monday at an event on Capitol Hill:
If we cannot cross the finish line with TPP, the 11 other countries who negotiated with us and in many cases made great sacrifices to reach this agreement will be forced to rethink that faith in Pindo leadership.
For Jack Lew’s part, he took his stand in Mexico City with his lady by his side, for the good of regional and Pacific partnerships. He went on and on, like this:
Pindosi exports to Mexico support 1 million Pindo jobs, and 29 Pindo states count Mexico among their two largest export markets, Lew said during remarks on Thursday. The cooperation between our two countries is critical under any conditions, but particularly as the global economy faces continued uncertainty and fragile growth. Together, Pindostan and Mexico play an important role in the global economy and we should embrace opportunities to strengthen that relationship. The Pindo-Mexican relationship extends far beyond economics and in fact has important implications for shared security issues. We must also address shared challenges on immigration, border security and illicit finance in ways that build on common values, nurturing the deep ties between our nations. Mexico is Pindostan’s third largest trading partner, with nearly $1.6b/yr in goods and services trade. Additionally, the TPP will build on NAFTA (a two-decade-old deal demonized by Trump on the campaign trail), by incorporating strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards and protecting our workers by making sure that our trading partners play by the same rules and values that we do.