A century ago, nations sent ship in a dangerous crawl across the ocean to facilitate international trade. Today nations around the pacific rim have developed and implemented the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that includes the US, Japan, Australia, and other developed countries in Asia, Central America, and Mexico.
Randall Waldron, Economics and International Business professor, said that about 40% of global GDP is represented in the production of these countries. He explained that the TPP, along with the European common market and the North American Free Trade Agreement, the TPP is one of largest international trade partnerships in the world.
The TPP has become more controversial recently particularly after the election of Donald Trump. Trump has spoken against it and many other international trade agreements involving the US including NAFTA.
“Overwhelmingly most economists are for free trade,” Waldron said, “Decreases in trade barriers around the world has led to significant economic growth and has helped lots of countries become much more prosperous than they ever would have otherwise.”
Waldron explained that people around the world have benefited from the freedom of trading over the past several decades as the international barriers have gone down. He explained that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which started immediately after World War II eventually became the World Trade Organization and has continued to evolve since. It is starting to incorporate more countries including China as an addition in 2001.
“It has done a lot to level the playing field on countries and push countries to both subsidize to their own exports and reduce tariffs or other trade barriers to imports,” Waldron said.
President Bush was largely for free trade and the Obama continued that push. Five years of negotiation under the Obama administration led finally to the TPP. The agreement was then brought to the senate for ratification. However, both political contenders in this past election Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump announced that they were against the TPP.
“While Trump says he is for bilateral negotiations, he generally opposes multiparty negotiations or free trade,” said Waldron.
Waldron also said that the TPP was designed to facilitate the free flow of goods and services across the borders. “As an economist, I am not optimistic at all that we will do better without the TPP,” said Waldron, “I think we need to continue to push for more free trade over the long term.”
Waldron explained that countries with their manufacturing capacity should focus on producing their goods and that the US should continue to pursue innovation, development, and high technology.
Waldron said that many U.S citizens think that the TPP is essentially partnering with China. He explained that if the US decides to no longer be part of the TPP, other countries who are growing and working together and engaging in trade will become a giant common market area.
“The US is now in danger of sitting out in the next round of trade and growth,” Waldron said, “We are in danger now of stagnating by withdrawing from global interaction.”
Daniel Bennet, associate professor of political science, paints a more complicated picture. Bennet said that it was Trump’s followers causing the biggest uproar about the trade agreement. “The voters who elected Trump saw an appeal there. They’ve seen their jobs that they’ve had for decades go overseas as a result of some of these trade deals, which allow these corporations to move things overseas to make goods cheaper.”
Bennet said that Trump’s goal in pushing against the TPP was mostly protectionist, or US centered, as opposed to globalist, which favors global perspective and cooperation. “NAFTA and these other trade deals really dealt with a bunch of these folks. Decently paying, blue collar jobs just don’t exist anymore, so there’s a desire to return to that time, to ‘make America great again,’ so to speak.”
“From a protectionist perspective, Trump’s saying that we need to deal with the interest of our workers before we deal with the rest of the world,” said Bennet