The agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reached after five years of often nail-biting sessions that ended inconclusively, marks a triumph for the United States, especially for President Barack Obama, but opposition to it is so strong in the U.S. Congress that its passage is far from certain next year, which will be marked by U.S. presidential election campaign rhetoric.

China, not a TPP member, has loomed large during the talks and, as soon as an accord was reached, the White House released a statement in which Obama said, "We can't let countries like China write the rules of the global economy; we should write those rules."

Although such words may give the impression that the accord, which binds together the economies of 12 countries that together account for 40 percent of the world economy, is somehow aimed at China, the reality is that it isn't.