AmPro on the TPP


Kevin Gallagher isn’t very keen on the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is best understood as President Barack Obama’s extension of the Bush-era doctrine of “competitive liberalization.”… The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) certainly isn’t about raising standards of living. The most ambitious estimates of the gains from the TPP suggest that participating nations will gain a mere one-tenth of 1 percent of the gross domestic product. Sixty percent of the projected gains go to Vietnam and the United States, and the other 20 percent goes to Malaysia—largely because the U.S. already has trade pacts with the other proposed big players in the TPP.

However, the proposed deal is far from popular in Asia. In exchange for the small portions of trade and growth that will go to some big exporters and foreign investors, each TPP nation will have to give up many of the policies they use to make trade and foreign investment work for employment, growth, and financial stability…

the investment and financial-services provisions in the TPP would restrict the ability of these nations to use joint ventures, local content rules, and regulation of cross-border financial flows to spread benefits, stimulate local manufacturing, promote employment, and provide financial stability.

It may be difficult to grasp that the TPP could harm the broader economic interests of both the U.S. and smaller Asian nations. But if balanced development requires a managed form of capitalism, then a trade deal like the TPP, which strengthens investors and weakens governments, can harm Asians and Americans alike…

I can’t say I share all those concerns, but it’s fair to say that the TPP isn’t a traditional trade deal in the sense of cutting tariffs and quotas. That column comes from a special issue of The American Prospect devoted to critiquing the TPP. For a contrary view, see Fred Bergsten and Jeff Schott, though much of their support for the initiative seems grounded in foreign-policy concerns rather economic benefits.