KU News Service

New TPP agreement, tariffs show countries rebuke Trump trade policies, trade law expert says

Tue, 01/23/2018

LAWRENCE — Eleven countries have announced their intention to forge an Asia-Pacific trade deal after the United States pulled out of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017. Japan’s economy minister said the agreement would be signed in Chile in March. President Donald Trump has also announced the U.S. would apply steep tariffs to imported washing machines and solar panels, viewed as a boost to American washer manufacturers but a setback to the renewable energy industry.

The announcement of the “Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership” is viewed as a victory for Japan and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which lobbied to save the TPP. Negotiations had been taking place in Tokyo to forge a new version of the partnership. Raj Bhala, an international trade law expert at the University of Kansas School of Law, is available to discuss the new deal, its provisions, the expected effects of the pact, the original TPP, what a deal without the United States means, trade between the 11 nations in the new deal, the potential for the U.S. to join the agreement in the future, trade protectionism and related issues.

“America leaves itself behind, both on economic and national security issues, by staying out of TPP,” Bhala said. “That the other 11 countries are willing to go forward on this comprehensive free trade agreement indicates they lack faith in, or do not need, America’s leadership on these issues, and are willing to rebuke openly the trade policies of the Trump administration.”

The 20 percent tariff on the first 1.2 million imported washers in the first year and 50 percent tariff above that exceed the recommendations from the International Trade Commission. A 30 percent tariff will be applied to imported solar cells and modules in the first year and decline to 15 percent in the fourth year. Bhala can discuss tariffs, their effects on industry, China and other nations’ reaction to the move, the scheduled phaseout and related issues.

“Legally, the question is whether the United States followed the criteria for applying the Section 201 Escape Clause remedies against washing machines and solar cells. America likely will be put to the test by Korea and China in WTO cases,” Bhala said. “Economically, the tariffs on washing machines and solar cells and modules will have differential effects on foreign companies. Much depends on where they manufacture the subject merchandise.”

Bhala, the Brenneisen Distinguished Professor at the KU School of Law, has studied international trade deals such as the TPP and NAFTA and trade issues such as tariffs for decades. He has authored dozens of books and journal articles on the topics, including “TPP Objectively: Law, Economics and National Security of History’s Largest, Longest Free Trade Agreement,” the textbook Modern GATT Law, “International Trade Law” and “Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a).” He has lectured around the world, including 10 of the 11 nations of the CPTPP, and practiced international banking law at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before entering academia.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or

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