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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Won’t Contain China


By Hunter Wallace

In the latest issue of The American Prospect, Clyde Prestowitz has a comprehensive breakdown of the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

“In the summer of 2009, I was invited with a few other policy analysts to the White House for a briefing on the newly proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). At that time, the potential participants included Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and, of course, the United States. Whether or not Japan would be invited to join had not yet been decided.

Noting that the United States already had free trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, and Singapore, I asked why we needed an agreement that added only the tiny economies of New Zealand, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The reply from a member of the National Security Council staff was that it would reassure our Asian allies that America was back; that this agreement would be the economic complement to the increased military deployments of the recently announced “Pivot to Asia” foreign policy, obviously aimed at counterbalancing the spread of Chinese power and influence. Along with health care and a possible treaty on nuclear weapons with Iran, TPP would be a major part of the president’s hoped-for legacy. …”

David Dayen has another article on how free trade deals have been a “fast track” to the corporate wish list:

“NAFTA made it easier for American capital to access Mexico, and for Mexican goods to enter U.S. markets. The deal gave Mexico a free pass on its terrible labor conditions and less-stringent laws on health and the environment. NAFTA threw this pool of cheap labor into direct competition with U.S. workers. The deal also put limits on food safety and financial regulations, cracked down on intellectual property theft, and included a chapter protecting corporate investments abroad through ISDS. “Most of the analysis leaves all that stuff out, and just looks at the textbook benefits of lowering tariffs,” says Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden, now at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “The problem is that’s not really what these creatures are like anymore.”

Partially resulting from NAFTA-style trade deals, the last 14 U.S. trade deficits have been among the largest in U.S. history, an average of $500 billion every year. While some government reports show that NAFTA had a minor impact on the U.S. economy, others point to the wipeout of manufacturing jobs. The Economic Policy Institute estimates nearly one million net jobs lost from NAFTA, and another 2.7 million lost since permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) were established with China. The Clinton administration said PNTR “would only increase the trade deficit by $1 billion,” claimed Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California. “The proponents were off by 30,000 percent.” …”

In The Los Angeles Times, Prestowitz again explains why TPP is a terrible deal for American workers:

“As counselor to the secretary of Commerce in the Reagan administration, I was involved in a number of trade negotiations, including the so-called MOSS (market-oriented sector-selective) talks. Some veteran negotiators waggishly renamed those negotiations — to paraphrase in family friendly terms — “more of the same old stuff.” And that’s what President Obama called for in his State of the Union proposal for completion and adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, or TPP, for the Asia-Pacific region. …”

The Wall Street Journal is crowing that TPP will set off a stampede of companies to Southeast Asia:

“Even before the ink is dry on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, companies are laying out plans to expand in Vietnam and Malaysia, both rapidly developing Asian nations whose growth depends heavily on external trade. …”

As Prestowitz points out, the TPP really isn’t much of a trade deal because the US already has free trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, Peru, Chile, Australia and Singapore. Tariffs are also already extremely low on most Japanese exports. The deal really only creates free trade with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and New Zealand.

In communist Vietnam, the average worker is paid less than 65 cents an hour, so look for a surge of low wage manufacturing jobs flooding into Southeast Asia. This could become a tsunami if the deal were to expand to include Thailand, Indonesia and China.