The trade deal once touted as a hallmark of U.S. efforts to check China's rise has at last crossed the finish line -- without its one-time leader.
On March 8, the 11 remaining members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the rebranded and scaled back version of TPP, signed the deal in Chile.
This deal has brought to fruition a decade long process that saw the United States first try to build a regional trade architecture excluding China then abruptly abandon it under U.S. President Donald Trump.
Since that time, Japan -- China's main regional rival -- has championed the bill, persevering despite repeated setbacks. Though sweeping in scope, the resurrected CPTPP is a remnant of what it was originally intended to be.
Built on the foundations of the 2006 Brunei-Chile-Singapore-New Zealand Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP), the logic behind TPP was to use access to the massive U.S. consumer market as a lure to incentivize deep economic, financial and labor reforms.
These would, in U.S. eyes, open up economies and force them to compete on a level playing field.
Even without the United States, the CPTPP bloc is still formidable.
It accounts for 13 percent of world GDP ($10.2 trillion) and its members carry out 27 percent of global trade. In addition, trade among CPTPP countries is substantial and likely to increase in the coming years.
Seems popular with the working class.
As 11 nations signed a highly-contested Pacific Rim free trade agreement in Chile on Thursday, opponents from those countries voiced their dissent in protest while progressives allies in the United States -- which isn't part of the pact -- admitted that although they "dodged a bullet," global solidarity against such "corporate-dominated" deals remains as important as ever.
The "cynically renamed" Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership is a revision of the TPP -- which President Donald Trump withdrew from just days after taking office -- and includes all of the other original signatories: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
"We know from our years-long, internationally-coordinated TPP campaign that our sisters and brothers in those nations fought against the corporate-rigged TPP model as hard as we did," the U.S.-based group Public Citizen said Thursday. "We stand in solidarity with them as they continue to mobilize to block the ratification and implementation of this TPP-11 deal in their countries."
In Santiago, Chile, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the new deal.
Protesters carried signs declaring, "No to modern slavery, no to the TPP-11" and "The TPP and TPP-11 are the same!" as they marched between the Defense Ministry and La Moneda Palace, the headquarters of the Chilean government, according to a report from the Latin American Herald Tribune. "We are going to continue fighting because it still must be approved after the vote," one activist told the outlet.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Newshub reports that protesters "dumped dozens of pillows, soft dog toys, and homemade rats" that featured messages such as "It's our children's future! We must protect it!" written in marker, outside of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Auckland office. Auckland TPP Action Group spokeswoman Chantelle Campbell said the pillows, "symbolize how the government has gone to sleep on the wider implications of the TPP."
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