July 21, 2015

Work moves ahead on TPP trade pact, but nations still divided over deal

Trade ministers from the U.S. and 11 other nations from both sides of the Pacific will meet in Hawaii next Tuesday to attempt to finalize what would be the world’s largest regional trade and investment agreement: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But while the pact has general public support in most of the countries involved, there are also deep partisan divisions in some of them over the issue.

This partisanship suggests that TPP, one of President Barack Obama’s principal foreign economic policy legacies, is not yet a done deal.

Support for Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade DealTPP involves a dozen Asian-Pacific nations, nine of which Pew Research Center surveyed earlier this year. Among those publics, a median of 53% think the deal would be good for their country, while a median of 23% say it would be a bad thing.

In the U.S., public backing for the treaty, which the Obama administration regards as a key element of its “pivot” to Asia, is tepid at best. Americans support TPP by a 49%-29% margin, though nearly a quarter offer no opinion.

The strongest support for the agreement is found in Vietnam, where 89% of the public backs the potential accord. The weakest support is in the U.S. and in Malaysia (38%). The greatest outright opposition is in Canada (31%), Australia (30%) and the U.S. And about one-in-ten Americans (12%) and 31% of Malaysians say they haven’t heard of the negotiations.

There is a partisan divide on TPP in a number of key nations. In the U.S., a modest 51% of Democrats think TPP would be good for the country, despite Obama’s strong push for the pact. Only 43% of Republicans share that view.

Similarly, in Canada, 70% of supporters of the ruling Conservative Party back TPP, but only 60% of Liberals and 42% of adherents of the New Democratic Party agree. In Australia, two-thirds of backers of the ruling Liberal National Party/Country Liberal Party coalition (67%) support TPP, while just 44% in the opposition Labor Party favor the agreement.

In four of the largest economies negotiating TPP, there is also a gender gap in public attitudes toward the deal. In the U.S., 53% of men favor TPP, but only 45% of women agree. Six-in-ten men in Japan think the trade deal would be good for the country, while only 46% of Japanese women agree. In Canada, the gender gap is 13 percentage points: 59% of men favor a deal, versus 46% of women. And in Australia it is 7 points (56% to 49%).

In a number of participating nations, a generation gap in TPP support exists as well. The largest difference (24 points) is in the U.S., where Americans ages 18 to 29 (65%) are much more supportive than those ages 50 and older (41%). There is also a 19-point difference between young and old in Mexico, a 15-point gap in Australia and a 10-point difference in Peru.

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Globalization and Trade, World Economies

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.


  1. Annie Stuart2 years ago

    How can ‘the public’ offer any informed support for this deal, when the whole negotiations are clouded in intentional secrecy? We, the public, have absolutely no idea what the so-called trade pact entails, so any purported ‘support’ for it is meaningless. I am surprised that a think tank of the stature of the Pew Research Centre has taken this at such face value.
    Here in New Zealand, there is deep concern at the future affects of any deal, and an awareness that this is not about free-trade between sovereign states, but about corporation/investor interests. Of particular concern is the ability of such interests to over-ride national laws and prosecute governments for any perceived action to protect health and welfare of citizens and environment that might happen to be against the profiteering of investors.
    Only when/if involved parties are transparent about the implications of TPPA can you write a serious analysis of public support for this. Otherwise, you are wasting your time!

  2. graeme pedersen2 years ago

    I see no mention of New Zealand, I wish this were the case but our (Democratic ?) prime minister is pushing this full bore. The pages leaked are so full of legalize, that I don’t believe any politician could understand the ramifications of this treaty. It has been deliberate hidden from the public by the corporate media. The 600 odd corporations which drafted this over several years have only their own interests at heart. Just how much money do these CEOs etc need to live on?

  3. Harriet Heywood2 years ago

    The polls are obviously skewed, since anyone of the 99% that actually know what the real facts are behind the investment and deregulation treaty is against it. The mainstream media has refused to report, which is why many don’t know about it. The secrecy and restrictions alone indicate the terrible nature of the deal.
    The most important thing about the treaty is that is not about trade. Its about deregulation, and theft of global resources. Anyone who votes for TPP, and has voted for fast track will be targeted in the next and following elections.
    Wake up people, our reps don’t work for us anymore. We are, as John Perkins has said, a corporatocracy.

  4. Laurinda2 years ago

    Guess it can be expected that pro-propaganda would be what this article is all about. Its blatant lies that the majority of 53% view this deal as good for their countries. Our info is the total opposite. But then as we all know stats and polls can be easily manipulated to suit your findings and report.

  5. Lauren Ayers2 years ago

    After the Battle in Seattle, multinational corporations learned to not let “the masses” know what’s at stake, and not to actually meet because opponents would arrive to object. This is a case of “Ignorance is NOT bliss.”

    During WWII, the Allied Powers came up with a way to track the economy so they could get the ‘best’ use of all assets and manage the war economy to win the war. Marilyn Waring from New Zealand discovered that these short sighted economists decided that anything that couldn’t be monetized didn’t matter, such as caring for a sick relative or friend, growing food for your family not the cash crop economy, as she explains in If Women Counted. Profits are not why we are here on earth, only sociopaths in power would keep pushing that agenda.

  6. Nina Ash2 years ago

    You don’t even mention New Zealand!!!

  7. Darrin Silverman2 years ago

    I love how any negative comment about the tpp you fon’t let post violating the first ammendment.

  8. Darrin Silverman2 years ago

    The TPP is a terrible agreement. You have heard no negative news on it because the giant corporations who wrote it own the news stations and papers. The investor state dispute chapter is reason enough not to pass it. No country should turn over their sovereignty to foreign tribunal courts made up of corporate lawyers and allow them to sue over any law they think effects their profit. Monsanto would be suing every country involved if they have laws banning GMO products which most do. Toyota and Hyundai could sue our government if the state where they have a plant raises the minimum wage. Nike who employees 100,000 people in Vietnam making their shoes could sue the government if they raised the .40 cents an hour people are making their. Thus agreement is make the corporations terrible for working people.

  9. Jorge2 years ago

    Agreeing to secret deals never ends well.

    Would anyone in their right mind sign a blank document on just the word of someone else saying it is good for you?

    This is pure insanity.

  10. Bob2 years ago

    How can people like the TPP when there has been little information what is in it?

  11. doug2 years ago

    you didn’t even canvas NZ. The TPP is a NZ initiative that the Obama administration took on and ran with.

  12. peter mooney2 years ago

    I don’t think many of us even understand what this pact is about. I think it is so under the table we don’t know what to think of it.

  13. Cid2 years ago

    It’s one thing to say how many are for, against, or haven’t heard of it. But why not report on the fact that we are not allowed to be really informed about it? No one is allowed to actually read the thing! Doesn’t anyone find this suspicious? Even our congressmen do not actually get a copy to read! That should be the real news. What are they hiding from us? No one should be for it until we have full disclosure of what is in it.

    1. Jack Hanke2 years ago

      This has always been the case with trade deals – or rather, it has been since the modern age of trade negotiations began in 1945. Negotiations are much more difficult when their details are being broadcast to the public before they are finalized, because then special interests tend to have much more influence over the give-and-take of discussions, making compromise far harder.

      While it’s possible that some suspicious things are going on behind closed doors, the closed doors are not by themselves grounds for suspicion.

      1. Jonathan2 years ago

        Trade deals such as the recent WIPO Marrakesh Treaty were conducted in a transparent fashion, so secrecy is not a precondition for successful deals. In the case of the TPP, the text is no secret to corporate lobbyists but is hidden from the citizens it will affect.

      2. Harriet Heywood2 years ago

        Hmmm. I thought we lived in a republic.

  14. New Zealander2 years ago

    Hi there.

    You have missed out New Zealand on this disgusting deal. Our trade minister is on the talking table with the minters/trade officials in the TPPA. New Zealand is also a key player in this deal, so why have you left New Zealand out?????????

    1. Tyron2 years ago

      They missed Brunei as well, assuming this is an American article and they probably don’t know where these countries are on the map?

  15. Jeffrey Michael Emerson2 years ago

    Do Not give more Power to global corporations!! Most corporations are acting too manipulative for greed and not for interests of nations involved. This deal expands their influence and control over national concerns ! Do not enact TPP or any other trade deals that are this destructive to common good (disguised as an aid to nations development in the global market arena).

  16. Michael Gary2 years ago

    How can we in the USA have any real fact based opinions on TPP when it is a secret treaty that the public is not allowed to read ? ? ? ……? ? ?.

  17. Jose2 years ago

    In Mexico we are far less informed than in the US about this trade deal, even less newspapers have covered the cables leaked by wikileaks about it. It would be good to show a map showing how many people have at least heard of this deal in each country, and contrast it with the map shown right now.

    1. Chas Ascencio2 years ago

      Yeah no kidding, considering I haven’t heard about this on tv or media once, probably because they legalize marriage to distract you from hearing about this bull shit.
      This is no good at all

    2. Nyara Chan2 years ago

      The same happens here in Chile. Though even if we knowledge the deal we wouldn’t be able to do anything against it. It is so sad and frustrating.