Speaking to CBNC at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday, US President Trump reiterated his view that the original Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was a “horrible deal”, but said “I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal”.

University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey has called on the New Zealand government for a watertight commitment that it “would never negotiate US re-entry and hence re-activate the suspended items in the TPPA – let alone make further concessions to help Trump ‘Make American Great Again’, which could only come at New Zealand’s expense.”

Trump’s latest position contradicts the adamant statement from USTR Robert Lighthizer last year that the US would never re-join the TPPA, following its withdrawal last January.

Professor Kelsey points out that “US re-entry has always been the end game for the revival of the TPPA as the TPPA-11. That’s why they are suspending rather than removing some of the most toxic provisions that the US demanded in the original negotiations.”

“Trump’s tantalising musings pose a quandary for the government. They will be desperate to re-engage the US. But Labour, and now Winston Peters, are spinning the TPPA-11 as a fundamentally different and nicer deal. Trump’s statement has exposed the reality that the TPPA-11 is a Trojan Horse for something even worse that the original agreement.”

“Any riposte that the US would have to negotiate re-entry and secure consensus, so some of the suspended items might remain off the table, is nonsense.”

“We have to remember that President Obama could not get the original TPPA through the US Congress. Even more concessions would have been demanded before the US certified other countries’ compliance with their TPPA obligations”, Professor Kelsey said.

“Trump has made it clear that the US is not going to be satisfied with the old deal and merely reactivating the suspended items”.

Professor Kelsey predicts a whole new raft of demands, including for Big Pharma, Big Tech and Wall Street, given that Trump has abandoned his campaign criticisms of corporate America.

“New Zealand could forget about new market access commitments Obama made as well’.