Vietnam legislature confirms delay on TPP decision

October 6, 2016 | 11:00 am PT
Vietnam legislature confirms delay on TPP decision
shoe factory in Vietnam. The United States imposes tariffs on imported shoes. Photo by Aaron Joel Santos for The New York Times
Uncertainty over the U.S. and its future is making other countries nervous.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will not be put in front of Vietnamese lawmakers for ratification during October's plenary session, the parliament’s general secretary Nguyen Hanh Phuc said on Thursday.

With Vietnam poised to be the biggest beneficiary of the 12-nation pact, the government has shown strong support for the trade deal.

However, efforts by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s administration to get the trade pact effective on paper will be in vain unless Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang puts forward the TPP for ratification to the parliament, which he hasn't. 

Vietnam seems to have reasons to be worried since prospects that the deal could be ratified by U.S. lawmakers this year have dimmed.

Although the Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed by 12 member nations in February this year, the trade deal still requires a two-year ratification period before it becomes a reality in January 2018.

The trade pact can only enter into force once at least half of the participating countries representing 85 percent of economic activity across the TPP have ratified the deal.

Data from the International Monetary Fund shows that the U.S. accounts for an estimated 61 percent of the trade zone’s gross domestic product.

“The U.S. is the largest economy among the 12 TPP member countries. Without the approval of the U.S. Congress, the trade accord won’t come into effect even it is ratified by all the other countries,” said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh.

There is some doubt over whether President Barack Obama will be able to call for enough support to push the trade deal through or even take it to a vote.

If President Barack Obama fails to get the trade pact signed, the fate of the TPP will be in the hands of either Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, whoever succeeds him as president.

And both U.S. presidential candidates are taking a harsher tone on the TPP. Both have said they oppose the TPP.

President Obama plans to bring the TPP in front of U.S. lawmakers after the presidential election and before he is replaced between November 8 and January 20.

“We are waiting for something magical to happen during this period of more than 70 days,” said a senior member of Vietnam’s TPP negotiating team.

If the TPP takes effect, it will create a free-trade zone covering 40 percent of the global economy.

The 12 nations involved are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Related News:

>TPP to give foreign investors power to sue Vietnamese government

>Vietnam to approve TPP this year, but all efforts may be in vain

>Vietnam to ratify TPP trade deal by August 9

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