GOP Platform: No TPP in Lame Duck

Okay, it doesn’t utter those words, just as the Democratic Platform will not. But it pretty much calls for the same thing. Here’s the full trade section of the agreed platform:

A Winning Trade Policy

International trade is crucial for all sectors of America’s economy. Massive trade deficits are not. We envision a worldwide multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principles of open markets, what has been called a “Reagan Economic Zone,” in which free trade will truly be fair trade for all concerned.

We need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first. When trade agreements have been carefully negotiated with friendly democracies, they have resulted in millions of new jobs here at home supported by our exports. When those agreements do not adequately protect U.S. interests, U.S. sovereignty, or when they are violated with impunity, they must be rejected.

We cannot allow foreign governments to limit American access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents, brands, know-how, and technology. We cannot allow China to continue its currency manipulation, exclusion of U.S. products from government purchases, and subsidization of Chinese companies to thwart American imports. The current Administration’s way of dealing with these violations of world trade standards has been a virtual surrender.

Republicans understand that you can succeed in a negotiation only if you are willing to walk away from it. A Republican president will insist on parity in trade and stand ready to implement countervailing duties if other countries refuse to cooperate.

At the same time, we look to broaden our trade agreements with countries which share our values and commitment to fairness, along with transparency in our commercial and business practices. In pursuing that objective, the American people demand transparency, full disclosure, protection of our national sovereignty, and tough negotiation on the part of those who are supposed to advance the interests of U.S. workers. Significant trade agreements should not be rushed or undertaken in a Lame Duck Congress (emphasis added).

Would be hard to argue that the TPP is not “significant,” and it’s the only deal anyone is thinking of “undertaking” in the Lame Duck. Obama was at one point betting he would have willing allies in Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. But that seems to have evaporated in recent days. So unclear who would help Obama bring in more votes, since Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are mostly opposed to a lame duck vote.

A few further notes:

  • Note no hard and fast rejection of TPP after the lame duck.
  • Unclear which trade deal provisions would or would not compromise sovereignty, as the platform isn’t explicit. (See here for one possible take.)
  • There’s a tension between signing agreements only with democracies, insisting on a worldwide trade deal (which would include non-democracies), but then also saying we should walk away from integration on a country-by-country basis. These are not compatible visions.
  • Finally, I don’t think there’s a clear pattern of a favorable U.S. export balance with trade partners that are democracies – as the platform seems to suggest. Econometric tests might be able to tell us more, although I can’t think of a clear theoretical mechanism for expecting any particular result. (e.g. does more inter-branch deliberation make foreign citizens want more U.S. goods?)

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