What would Chrystia Freeland, the journalist, make of Chrystia Freeland, the cabinet minister? As author of the excellent Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, she would probably approve Minister Freeland’s pursuit of a “progressive trade agenda.” But I wonder how she would approach the Trudeau government’s equivocations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the star-crossed trade agreement that former U.S. president Barack Obama hoped would counter China’s economic dominance in Asia.
On January 23, President Donald Trump signed an order that removes the United States from the TPP, leaving the 12-country agreement without an anchor economy. Some aren’t giving up. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wanted to save the TPP, and suggested China could be added to make the economics more attractive. Japan seems wary, but hasn’t yet closed the door on the TPP. And Canada? It kept dodging and weaving. “This agreement was so constructed that it can only enter into force with the United States as a ratifying country,” Freeland told reporters after Trump’s announcement. “So the TPP as a deal cannot happen without the United States being a party to it.”
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