Small hope TPP may be ratified

Sunday, November 13, 2016

(Above, left to right) Todd Muller (MP for Bay of Plenty), Jami-Lee Ross, Wayne Eagleson (PM's Chief of Staff), Andrew Hunt (National Party Board member), Tim Groser (NZ Ambassador to the US), Peter Goodfellow (National Party president), Glenda Hughes (National Party board member). Photos supplied


Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross believes there remains a very slim chance the controversial TPPA could be ratified during the United States’ “lame-duck period”.

The agreement – a 12-nation free trade deal which includes New Zealand – could sneak in during this window of opportunity. The agreement’s supporters are hopeful Congress will back the TPP in the so-called lame duck period between elections and President Trump’s inauguration in January.

“There’s a small glimmer of hope. If Hillary Clinton had won, there was a big chance (it would have been signed-off) as she does support trade,” Jami-Lee said.

“Trump is more insular – he talked about putting more barriers up. This could have been detrimental to world markets.”

But Mr Ross is realistic, given Trump’s fierce opposition to TPP based on fears it will mean American job losses.

Prime Minister John Key on Thursday told media it was "fairly unlikely" the TPPA would pass by the US Congress during this period although Trade Minister Todd McClay said it was "too soon to know exactly what will happen".

“Trade is the number one issue, particularly around TPP and the future of any Asia Pacific agreement,” Mr Ross said.

“However the wider issue of China and how the new President interacts with them is something we will have to watch closely.

“If sanctions or tariffs are imposed on China and Chinese goods, this could impact the Chinese economy significantly. We would have to brace for unintended economic consequences that might impact New Zealand.”

Meanwhile Mr Ross, who in July was invited to the US as a guest to the Republican and Democratic national conventions with Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller, was “surprised like everyone” with Trump’s victory.

“I struggled to see how he could be credible candidate,” Mr Ross said.

He feels the dust is all still settling and pundits and followers are still working out how the predictions were all so wrong. “I think the lesson for everyone is that polls shouldn’t always be believed – look at Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union).

“The bottom line is that he managed to build a coalition of various groups of Americans that wanted change and were prepared to look past all of his flaws.”
Having said that, the predictions that Clinton was more popular were true.

“She won the popular vote across the country. The issue for her is that the electoral college voting system the US has leads the election to be fought around certain ‘battleground states’.”

Her support didn't hold up as well in a number of those states. She lost Florida, which was very important, as was Ohio. Additionally, Trump managed to tap in to discontent in states like Michigan and Wisconsin which are typically reliable for democrats.
“Trump managed to tap into America’s disaffected whilst also capitalising on Clinton’s failure to connect.

She didn’t help her case in appealing to the masses by branding some of Trump’s followers.

“You just can’t ignore a segment of the population. You can’t just label people deplorables,” Mr Ross said.

The Trump campaign slammed Clinton for saying that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a "basket of deplorables".

Speaking at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City in September, Clinton said Trump’s supporters were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic."

It’s difficult to precisely pinpoint where Clinton went wrong.

“But the key theme we picked up over in the states was just how unpopular both candidates were. There were serious trust issues with Clinton, stemming back to the time Bill was President, as well as the email scandal and Benghazi attack relating to her time as Secretary of State. She failed to rebuild her image and rebuild the trust.”

 As to the future for the west given the shock result, we can only remain positive. Trump has already backed down on completely demolishing Obamacare for example.

“The only thing that can really be drawn at this stage is that politics as usual - the typical way in which elections are conducted in the US - have all be thrown out the window this time around,” Mr Ross said.

“ But he is a democratically elected President, elected using the USA's own unique system, and we all have to respect that.

“I hope and expect he will surround himself with the best and brightest he can find, and that he will govern sensibly for the US and the world.”