The biggest loser from TPP’s demise is in town, and Trump is offering a small consolation

By Ana Swanson

President Trump holds up an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States and Vietnam are slated to announce trade deals worth between $15 billion and $17 billion on Wednesday afternoon, when President Trump and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc meet at the White House.

Speaking at a dinner for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night, Phuc said that the new deals would be concentrated largely in the high-tech sector. Even as Vietnam exports products like fish, seafood, apparel and footwear to the United States, it is a hungry consumer of U.S. corn, soybeans, planes and machinery, he said.

But the newly announced deals may be little comfort for Vietnam after the collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-country trade deal that Trump officially withdrew from shortly after he entered office.

Economists say Vietnam would have been one of the biggest winners of the deal. A 2016 study by the Peterson Institute of International Economics found that the Obama-era trade deal would have increased Vietnam’s gross domestic product by 8.1 percent by 2030, the most of any country in the deal, and expanded its exports by one-fifth. Economists expected the deal to expand access to foreign markets for Vietnamese producers of apparel, footwear and seafood, as well as stimulate economic reforms within the country.

In comparison, the TPP would have boosted U.S. GDP 0.5 percent and Japanese GDP 2.5 percent by 2030, Peterson estimated. Even countries with smaller economies, like Brunei and Peru, would not see as large of a percentage increase as Vietnam would have, according to Peterson’s estimates.

The deal also had strategic implications for Vietnam, a country of 90 million nestled against China’s southern border. By excluding China, at least initially, the makers of the TPP sought to strengthen rival economies and balance …read more