Ag Policy Blog

Presidential Primary Results Damage Prospects for TPP

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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When Bernie Sanders took the Michigan primary late Tuesday night, perhaps the biggest losers may have been friends of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Pundits analyzing Sanders' win over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary -- Sanders' biggest win to date -- attributed the win to trade policy. Sanders has a harder edge on trade than Clinton, who often finds herself defending her husband and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

As was written in The Nation on Wednesday, "Throughout his campaign, Sanders has highlighted his past opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement and normalization of trade relations with China—and his absolute, unequivocal opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

"Clinton, who in 2012 announced that “this TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements,” now says that she too is opposed to the proposal."…

After losing Michigan, Clinton may become more aggressive in attacking the trade deal.

Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham on FOX News noted the wins in Michigan by both Sanders and Donald Trump could be attributed, at least in part, to trade and TPP.

"I think [Sanders] has hit the issue of trade a lot. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this massive 5,500 page deal, that really needs to get discussed more. That looms over this whole debate...," Ingraham said.…

The Hill had a piece Tuesday afternoon, "Sanders digs in on anti-trade argument."…

Trump too argues that trade should be reconsidered. He wants to add tariffs to imports from China and argues that TPP should be renegotiated.

After Michigan, trade is a growing part of the presidential debate heading into Ohio, another state that "has seen its fair share of job losses that some attribute to free-trade policies that have encouraged outsourcing and increased imports. In 2015, Ohio lost 115,000 jobs due to free-trade deals, according to a study released this month by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on conditions of low- and middle-income workers," as the Boston Globe reported Thursday.…

All of this leads to greater difficulty to getting the Trans Pacific Partnership through Congress even as agricultural groups and the Obama administration try to rally support for the 12-country free-trade agreement. It could become increasingly more difficult to generate congressional support for TPP this year, regardless of whether congressional leaders commit to bringing up the trade deal after the elections.

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