Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the key to getting US President Donald Trump to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership could be changing the massive trade deal’s name.
Mr Trump turned “TPP” into a rallying cry as he successfully campaigned for the US presidency, with large crowds at events booing each time he mentioned the proposed trade pact’s acronym, championed by predecessor Barack Obama between the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and eight other Pacific Rim nations.
On Mr Trump’s third day in the White House he pulled the US out of the agreement, but at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday he surprisingly flagged the possibility of re-joining “if it is in the interests of all”.
Ms Bishop, during a question and answer session in Los Angeles, was asked how could it be made to look “like a win-win” for Trump to come back to the TPP.
“By re-naming it,” Ms Bishop deadpanned.
Australia and the other remaining 10 nations agreed this week to push ahead with the TPP without the US.
Ms Bishop said Australia would encourage the US to rejoin.
The TPP was designed to allow new countries to become members and noted the United Kingdom, the Philippines and Thailand have shown interest and “this is the kind of trade agreement the United States should be championing”.
“There’s always the prospect China might make a very smart strategic move and apply,” she said.
Mr Trump’s shadow hung over the foreign minister’s appearance at the RAND Corp headquarters in Santa Monica and at one point when she described TPP she mistakenly began to call it the “Trump” Pacific-Partnership.
“How far the 11 will be prepared to go to admit the United States in a way that would enable President Trump to claim triumph?” Ms Bishop asked the audience.
“I don’t know.
“But the point we are making to the United States is others are seeing the TPP as an enormous economic and strategic advantage.”
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