TPP Another Turnbull Economic Mess

Despite confirming he expected the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be killed by Donald Trump, the Trade Minister confirmed today he has not ordered any economic modelling of the benefits to Australia of the Turnbull Government’s Plan B agreement without the US.

This is another Turnbull Government economic mess.

Donald Trump made it clear throughout the campaign that he opposed the TPP, calling it a “disaster”.

After his election last year, Donald Trump released a YouTube video saying:

“I am going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. A potential disaster for our country.” (President-elect Trump, YouTube, 21 November 2016).

On Saturday morning (AEDST), moments after Donald Trump was sworn in as US President, the White House website was updated stating:

“With a lifetime of negotiating experience, the President understands how critical it is to put American workers and businesses first when it comes to trade….. This strategy starts by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

Despite this, on Saturday, the Government was still hoping to talk Donald Trump out of killing the TPP:

“It’s too early to write off the TPP. We look forward to further negotiations with the US.” (Darren Chester, Channel 9, January 21 2017).

The next day, the Trade Minister said the US President’s decision “was not unexpected.” (Steve Ciobo, media statement 22 January 2017).

The Turnbull Government is now saying Plan B is an alternate agreement with the other 11 countries that were part of the TPP.

However, they have no idea whether this is even worth doing. 

Labor asked the Government for economic modelling on the value to Australia of an agreement without the US. But they haven’t bothered to do any.  

This is despite the Trade Minister’s admission that without the United States it “changes the metrics substantially.” (Steve Ciobo, Insiders November 23 2016).

Asked why this morning, the Trade Minister said it was because it was “unreasonable” to expect him to prepare for “hypotheticals(Steve Ciobo, ABC Radio National 23 January 2017).

This is despite Donald Trump repeatedly saying he would kill the TPP and the Minister admitting he expected the President to refuse to sign the agreement.

At a time when unemployment is rising and economic growth is falling, Australia deserves better economic leadership than the mess Malcolm Turnbull has created on the TPP.

If Plan B ever happens it would require independent economic evidence, another Parliamentary Inquiry and new legislation.