The decision by 11 states to move forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US is certainly a setback for the American people. Canada and Mexico, which already have trade agreements with Europe (Canada’s is pending approval by the European courts, but many provisions are already in force), will have substantial advantages in managing supply chains in Asia over the United States.
However, there is a much bigger reason this is a miserable failure for the US government. You see, the TPP has a Accession Clause which allows new members to be added to the deal and had the US been a member, it would have had veto power over any new member. In other words, the US could have kept China out if China didn’t play by our rules on workers’ rights, intellectual property, environmental regulation, and conceivably even monetary policy if we had decided to insist on it. Because we are not a member; however, if China gets in before we do they would not only have a massive advantage in Asia, but could also access the European market through Canada, Mexico, and soon Japan while enjoying the investor protections of the TPP. Even worse, they would then have veto power over us if we wanted to join in the future.
This would be devastating for the United States, we would not only be uncompetitive for manufacturing in virtually every market, but because this new deal suspends many intellectual property provisions the Obama administration insisted on, industries that depend heavily on IP such as tech and pharmaceuticals would also suffer. At this point, all we can do is hope and perhaps beg Canada or Japan to veto them for us if they want to join.
So, whether or not we may like trade deals in vacuum, let this be a harsh reminder that the rest of the world doesn’t take their marching orders from the United States and we must talk with them rather than simply turn inwards. Not even our closest and most subservient allies. Of course, the real problem is that Trump and his administration are too damn stupid to understand.