After almost five years of talks, marked by several false starts and repeated missed deadlines, negotiators have finally clinched a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal linking the U.S., Japan and 10 other Asia-Pacific countries -- but conspicuously excluding China.
In a sense, the negotiations were doomed to succeed. Failure would have been a humiliating setback for the U.S. It would have robbed America's "pivot to Asia" of its most important component, seriously undermining Washington's efforts to strengthen ties with friendly countries in the region and reinforce its strategic presence in the face of China's rise. The geopolitical as well as economic consequences would have been incalculable.