- Senior politicians at an event hosted by POLITICO on Monday expressed hope the Trump administration would not totally back out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite various reports claiming the deal was "dead" in Congress.
- "I think I prefer the word purgatory," Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative, said to the audience in Washington, D.C. Froman noted President Obama would soon meet with various leaders in Lima, Peru to express his outlook on the deal.
- "My advice will continue to be to him is not withdraw, renegotiate," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-TX, Chairman of the House Ways & Means committee. "Make it better, make it better for America, and then let's stay in that trading field."
The debate over trade remains remarkably unaffected by party lines, as politicians on both sides of the aisle express a deep internal divide over whether the TPP should be ratified.
This divide included opposition by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and President-elect Donald Trump, who both actively opposed the agreement, claiming it did not meet their standards. Even so, many believed that the agreement might still be ratified during the lame-duck session of Congress, which started this week.
Politicians are still holding out hope that Trump might change his mind, though.
It would not be new for a President to reverse course on trade promises, as President Obama campaigned to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2008. Obama had argued that labor and environmental standards were not strict enough, Froman acknowledged during the event. But, what many do not realize, Froman said, is that the TPP is the renegotiation of NAFTA.
Yet unlike Trump's relatively tempered promise to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw, the President-elect has pledged to outright withdraw from the agreement within his first 100 days, leaving the ratification or renegotiation of the TPP in doubt.
"If we withdraw, abandon that field completely, we lose — China wins in a major way," Brady said during the event.