Robert Lighthizer Blew Up 60 Years of Trade Policy. Nobody Knows What Happens Next.

Craig Allen, president of the US China Business Council, served as Obama’s ambassador to Brunei, a founding member of the TPP back in 2003. He keeps a framed replica of its Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation — a document that dates back to 1850 — in his office near Washington’s Dupont Circle. He remembered having to tell his diplomatic counterparts that the US was withdrawing from the TPP, and worries that the relationship will never fully heal. “It was painful, that we withdrew with nothing so much as a ’thank you very much.” Allen continued. “All of our negotiating partners worked hard to meet our demands. It was very difficult for them to do so, and we walk away. But we are a democracy, and an ambassador must follow instructions.”