Democrats Poll Better for Senate, Trump Rethinks TPP

The Washington Monument and United States Capitol seen from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC
The Washington Monument and United States Capitol seen from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC (Shutterstock/Orhan Cam)

The conventional wisdom in the United States is that Democrats are likely to take control of the House of Representatives in November while Republicans are likely to defend their majority in the Senate.

That’s changing, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Democrats are polling better in Arizona and Tennessee. Ted Cruz is still likely to win reelection in Texas, but Democrat Beto O’Rourke is mounting a serious challenge.

In Florida, it’s the other way around. The candidacy of Republican governor Rick Scott is making Democrat Bill Nelson’s reelection a little less likely.

For more, read my story from February. Read more “Democrats Poll Better for Senate, Trump Rethinks TPP”

Trump Agrees to Meet Kim, Trans Pacific Partnership Continues Without Him

Presidents Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Donald Trump of the United States meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, October 2, 2017
Presidents Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Donald Trump of the United States meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, October 2, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un to meet one-on-one. It would be the first time a sitting American president met with the North Korean dictator.

North Korea craves international legitimacy, which the United States have deliberately withheld. Trump’s break with decades of policy is risky — but it’s not if existing policy has worked. North Korea remains a rogue state. It has only continued its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

The challenge now, as Fred Kaplan writes in Slate, is organizing a careful diplomacy that includes coordinating common negotiating positions with Japan and South Korea.

Unfortunately, Trump has yet to appoint an ambassador to Seoul. The State Department’s top North Korea expert has resigned. None of the three top foreign-policy officials in Trump’s government — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — have much experience in Asia.

Also read this thread by Robert E. Kelly about why Korea hands are skeptical. Read more “Trump Agrees to Meet Kim, Trans Pacific Partnership Continues Without Him”

World Not Waiting for America: Pacific Nations Continue Trade Deal

Prime Ministers Shinzō Abe of Japan and Justin Trudeau of Canada speak in Washington DC, March 31, 2016
Prime Ministers Shinzō Abe of Japan and Justin Trudeau of Canada speak in Washington DC, March 31, 2016 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

In another sign that the world isn’t waiting for the United States, eleven countries in Asia and Latin America have announced their intention to keep the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) alive.

One of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was to withdraw from the trade pact.

Japan and Mexico stepped into America’s place to salvage it.

Both have also intensified their trade negotiations with the EU, which itself is rushing to defend globalization from a suddenly protectionist America. Read more “World Not Waiting for America: Pacific Nations Continue Trade Deal”

Trump Blunders by Withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership

Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015 (Joshua M. Hoover)

Donald Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Monday.

It was one of his first acts as president — and a terrible mistake.

Not only is Trump robbing American companies of business opportunities in the Far East; he disappoints American allies in the region and cedes the initiative to China. Read more “Trump Blunders by Withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership”

In Era of Trump, Australia Looks to China for Leadership on Trade

Yoshihiko Noda Barack Obama Wen Jiabao
President Barack Obama, flanked by Prime Ministers Yoshihiko Noda of Japan and Wen Jiabao of China, attends the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 20, 2012 (State Department/William Ng)

Australia isn’t waiting for Donald Trump to assume office in January before recalibrating its foreign relations.

The island nation — America’s most reliable ally in the Pacific — has thrown its support behind Chinese trade initiatives now that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) appears dead.

Steven Ciobo, Australia’s trade minister, told the Financial Times he would work to conclude new trade pacts with other countries in the region, including China’s proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.

“Any move that reduces barriers to trade and helps us facilitate trade, facilitate exports and drive economic growth and employment is a step in the right direction,” Ciobo said.

But there is a strategic component to this as well. Read more “In Era of Trump, Australia Looks to China for Leadership on Trade”

American Leadership in Pacific at Stake If Trump Cancels Trade Pact

Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Park Geun-hye of South Korea walk in the garden of the Blue House in Seoul, April 25, 2014
Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Park Geun-hye of South Korea walk in the garden of the Blue House in Seoul, April 25, 2014 (White House/Pete Souza)

One of the first victims of Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States could be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a comprehensive trade agreement that the outgoing president, Barack Obama, had hoped to enact in the waning days of his administration.

Many Republicans in the Senate, and quite a few Democrats, support free trade in principle and understand the strategic value of the pact.

But they may balk at ratifying the treaty now that Trump, who campaigned explicitly on an anti-trade platform, is two months away from the presidency. Read more “American Leadership in Pacific at Stake If Trump Cancels Trade Pact”

Democrats Better Know What They’re Doing on TPP

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama of the United States attend a summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 20, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama of the United States attend a summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 20, 2012 (State Department/William Ng)

Democrats are gambling if they’re proposing to get the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement through the Senate after the election in November.

Hillary Clinton, the party’s presidential nominee, has raised doubts about the treaty, saying it doesn’t do enough to create jobs and raise wages.

Her vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, also says he can’t support the treaty in its current form, despite being one of just thirteen Democratic senators who voted last year to give President Barack Obama so-called fast-track authority to negotiate the pact.

Their newfound skepticism of the agreement, which proposes to liberalize 40 percent of the world’s trade, is a gesture to supporters of Bernie Sanders, a self-declared socialist from Vermont who challenged Clinton during the Democratic primaries.

Although polls show a majority of Democratic Party voters support free trade, left-wing activists have made common cause with trade unions to resist TPP.

Clinton and Kaine could hardly change their minds again after the election. Their hope is getting the treaty ratified before the next president is sworn in in January. Read more “Democrats Better Know What They’re Doing on TPP”

Republicans Must Not Hold Trade Pact Hostage

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell speaks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, December 3, 2014
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell speaks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, December 3, 2014 (White House/Pete Souza)

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the United States Senate, argued on Thursday that a trade pact with eleven other Pacific nations should not be send to Congress for approval until after Barack Obama’s successor is elected next year.

“I think the president would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election,” he told The Washington Post. “There’s significant pushback all over the place.”

Even McConnell, a free trader who previously expressed support for the treaty, said he now has “serious problems” with the Trans Pacific Partnership Obama negotiated.

It’s hard to take him seriously. Read more “Republicans Must Not Hold Trade Pact Hostage”

Clinton’s Trade Turnabout Could Prove Political Mistake

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton gives a speech in Muscatine, Iowa, October 6
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton gives a speech in Muscatine, Iowa, October 6 (Hillary for America/Mike Davidson)

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership that her own party leader, Barack Obama, heralds as a victory for American leadership and American jobs reveals just how far to the left she is comfortable moving as a presidential candidate.

It could turn out to be a costly mistake.

Clinton played an integral part in advancing the free-trade pact with other Pacific nations as Obama’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013. But as the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Clinton now opposes a deal that would lower tariffs and reduce other trade barriers to the projected benefit of $220 billion in global economic output over ten years. Read more “Clinton’s Trade Turnabout Could Prove Political Mistake”

Pacific Nations Reach Agreement on Trade Pact

Barack Obama Shinzō Abe
American president Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe at the White House in Washington DC, April 28 (White House/Pete Souza)

Negotiators from Japan, the United States and ten other Pacific nations reached an agreement for a comprehensive trade pact on Monday that would be the signature achievement of President Barack Obama’s economic “pivot” to Asia.

The deal comes after five years of talks and despite opposition from farm lobbies in Japan to trade unions in America who fear that freer trade across the Pacific Ocean will depress prices and wages. Read more “Pacific Nations Reach Agreement on Trade Pact”