Ministers responsible for the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations meet in Maui July 28-31 to continue the talks. The consensus has been and continues to be that a wrap-up of TPP — a massive international trade pact that would eclipse NAFTA itself — is not in the cards for Maui. But the U.S. and Japan seem determined to close the deal — leaving other nations behind, if necessary.
So many targets have been missed. Why is Maui different? Time is running out for President Obama to make TPP part of his legacy. And the popularity of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s government appears to be in freefall — so he’s keen to get the TPP signed well ahead of Japan’s 2016 federal election.
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman wants the TPP to be approved by Congress on Obama’s watch. Realistically, this means it has to happen before Christmas. TPP and the 2016 U.S. elections will not mix. Froman can’t afford further delays — it may already be too late – so hardball is his only option.