According to legend, the great writer and American-made product Mark Twain once remarked, after hearing that a newspaper had run his obituary: "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." I hope the same can be said about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement that's been widely assumed dead since Trump's victory.
The TPP -- which Clinton eventually came out against, too -- was a major issue in the campaign, and understandably, many Americans fear it could threaten their jobs. However, if more people took the time to weigh the treaty's pros and cons, I think they might see that the benefits outweigh the costs. From the perspective of an American manufacturer who sees potential markets across the globe, the TPP has much to recommend it, including making it easier to create more jobs in America.
The treaty's future is likely to top the agenda this weekend at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru, which President Obama will attend. But it should be on everybody's mind here too -- especially those who protest it as a job-thief only to turn around and buy Asian-made products. Here are just a few reasons I think the TPP should be allowed to live:
1. The TPP -- which includes the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries but not China -- is about facilitating trade, and more trade means more jobs. If you're a U.S. manufacturer who wants to export products, too often you find the deck stacked against you because of other countries' protectionist policies. Significant taxes and tariffs are slapped on U.S. companies' products, which can make it harder to be competitive overseas. The TPP would create more equitable policies, which would make it easier for us all to sell what we make best. The obvious result? Increased production, which would allow us to hire more people at home and contribute a bigger chunk to the tax base.
2. The TPP would help protect us from theft of intellectual property in partner countries. Most U.S. companies that export specialized products have been undercut in foreign markets by cheap knockoffs of their designs. It's happened to us. The TPP would give us the ability to defend our IP in a more formal, rigorous manner.
3. The TPP would lead to better-paying jobs by allowing us to grow and export more specialized products. There's plenty of data supporting the fact that workers in export industries earn more than their counterparts in domestically focused ones. And as Alana pointed out this week in The Atlantic, the TPP's important labor and environmental provisions -- including regulations on child labor -- would put pressure on other countries to raise their workplace standards. That would raise labor costs elsewhere, which would reduce the pressure in America to keep wages down. The free market would do its work.Semuels
4. In a word, China. The rise of China has altered the face of manufacturing. And as was reported last week in The New York Times, China is aggressively pushing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a pact that includes itself, Japan and 14 other Asian countries -- but not the U.S. If we don't make trade deals, then China will, and we'll be the biggest losers.
Critics of the TPP make valid points about its shortcomings. But what trade agreement or legislation has ever been perfect? We should not allow the best to be the enemy of the good. If America pulls the plug on the TPP, it will only be hurting itself. And if we as a nation impose more protectionist policies on other countries, as Trump has promised, then we could easily end up with a global trade environment that operates according to the old rules of frontier justice: Tit for tat, butter for fat. You kill my dog, I'll skin your cat.