Even without the Text the Apparent Goals of the TPP make it a Worthwhile Pursuit
Aug 6, 2013
Thursday August 1st, the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade under the Committee of Foreign Affairs held a hearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a free trade agreement; there are currently 12 countries participating in the agreement, including the US. Like all free trade agreements the goal of the TPP is to promote trade with our mostly Asian and Oceanic trading partners by lowering tariffs and regulations in order to stimulate job growth and create wealth.
There were four witnesses involved in the hearing; Edward Gerwin of Trade Guru LLC, Amgad Shehata of UPS, Steven Metalitz of International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), and Celeste Drake of AFL-CIO. These four witnesses represent a spectrum of the special interests involved in the TPP. Despite the fact that the precise wording for the TPP is unavailable, these witnesses have speculated on how their interest groups would be affected and what precautions ought to be included so that the US benefits greatly. Even though the TPP is on track to be signed and finalized by October 2014, the general public and even congressmen have been kept out of the loop.
Consequently, discussing specifics is near impossible. However, the specifics are unnecessary if we concentrate, not on what the TPP actually says but what it is trying to accomplish. If we begin with the premise that the TPP is a free trade agreement, then the potential benefits that we can reap from it are myriad. Generally speaking, free trade agreements benefit all parties included. Free trade means that consumers have more choices when purchasing products, it leads to lower prices, and it leads to specialization of product production meaning that quality increases. In line with the benefits of specialization, free trade also leads to innovation and competition. Companies that are forced to compete with each other will continue to improve on their products, which in-the-end will mean the best products possible for consumers.
Cheaper products, better quality, and more choices are benefits that consumers reap with free trade agreements. Individuals also reap benefits of free trade because it also leads to economic growth which can spur employment. Higher levels of employment in freely trading countries mean more exports and imports and a higher quality of life. Consequently, unlike some protectionistswill argue, free trade does not positively affect wealthier countries while negatively affecting the poorer ones. No, free trade positively benefits everyone. In fact, truly free trade is the only moral stance acceptable, as outlined in an older CATO article.
Furthermore, free trade is also a very strong diplomatic tool. In the long-run free trade with undemocratic governments can lead to improved democratic governance of trading countries. And consequently, the old adage that democracies don’t go to war with each other becomes more realized leading to a more peaceful world.
Therefore, even though the specifics of the TPP are not public information, we can still support and promote a new trade agreement that relies on having truly free and open trade.