With the Trans Pacific Partnership dead -- quite possibly the only good thing that will come of Donald Trump's election -- thoughts are now turning to other possible trade agreements for Australia. That means more acronyms, like RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), FTAAP (Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific), which is now being spruiked by Trade Minister Steve Ciobo -- who has discovered his international passport to trade negotiations is now the political equivalent of a toilet brush. Labor's Jason Clare today talked of APEC -- which back in the Keating-Clinton years was a beacon of hope for free trade, as those with long enough memories will recall -- bringing China and the US together. Dream on, Jase.
Before we rush on to the next acronym, it might serve to work out exactly what the TPP failed: because US voters saw no benefits in it, only the threat of more lost jobs. And the so-called "elites" hated it too, because it was conducted by trade negotiators in league with large corporations behind closed doors, with no transparency or accountability. The only drafts of the TPP we ever saw came via WikiLeaks. Our own government steadfastly refused to allow any independent assessment of the TPP, terrified it would reveal the truth -- that it had negligible benefits for Australia and opened us up to constant litigation by multinational companies.