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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

TPP without the United States is still worth it

Donald Trump's election to the US presidency has effectively scuttled any chance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement being ratified. Plenty of commentators and critics of the agreement have said that TPP is now effectively "dead".

In a way, declaring the agreement dead because the United States might not ratify it gives a great insight into the thinking of the critics of the agreement - TPP isn't all about the United States, and never was. Yet opposition to TPP has obsessively focused on the United States.

MFAT's TPP information demonstrates the market opportunities for New Zealand's exporters to the other members of the agreement. For example, exporters of value-added New Zealand wood products to Japan for example are in for a major windfall. That's not something we should walk away from. New Zealand depends on international trade for our prosperity.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Trump is the product of [insert self-serving explanation here]

I'm loathe to discuss Trump's victory at this year's US Presidential election. Plenty of ink has already been spilled. However I think a number of the explanations being put on the result are simply self-serving, e.g. Trump won because the disenchanted working class, left behind by neoliberalism and globalisation, abandoned the Democrats and voted Republican. Therefore, to prevent a Trump we must reject these things too.

Firstly, the analysis of the results (so far) shows that the reason Trump won was because Democrats didn't come out in sufficient numbers in the right states to vote. Hillary Clinton has managed to win the popular vote (47.8% to 47.3%), but that is meaningless in the US as it's winning states that matters.

Secondly, Trump won the votes of people you'd expect to vote Republican anyway - men, whites, those 45 years plus. He did slightly worse than Mitt Romney among those earning $50,000 plus a year, but they still voted for him overwhelmingly, and slightly better among those earning less than $50,000 a year, but they still voted Democrat overwhelmingly. He did much better among those outside of a union than within.

All of this points to the Democrats not putting up their strongest candidate. Don't get me wrong, I wanted Hillary to win - I think Trump is awful, his business acumen is totally overblown, he has basically no experience in government, he'll push back progress made on climate change, free trade (and ironically labour rights guaranteed by such agreements, although maybe that's the point), without even mentioning his awful attitude towards women, the disabled, Blacks and Latinos. But Hillary carried so much baggage - much of it unfairly heaped on her - that she was always going to struggle.