Our New Trade Frontier: The Asian-Pacific Rim

In May the 12th round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) took place in Dallas, Texas where officials from the nine countries– United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam– met to discuss what could become the single largest jolt to the American economy since the Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2008. If agreed upon, the free trade agreement would strengthen economic relations with a region that currently serves as the fourth largest trading market for the United States.  Also, the TPP could significantly widen what is already an emerging market for NAFTA partners. In 2010, trade with the Asia-Pacific region totaled $775 billion, and accounted for 72% of all U.S. agricultural exports to the world marketplace.

The Obama Administration has made the TPP a central item to its trade agenda for the upcoming election, and has marketed its potential impact as being an “economic stimulus package that doesn’t require the federal government to spend more money (or go deeper into debt). The agreement would formalize trade in traditional sectors such as industrial goods, agriculture, and textiles between the United States and its Asian-Pacific partners, as well as develop universal guidelines to defend intellectual property rights, regulate trade barriers, and enforce labor laws and environmental standards. Additionally, the TPP will address trade and compliance issues to better monitor foreign investment in products and services, streamline the exchange of digital technologies, and allow for the competition of state-owned enterprises with the private sector to protect against American economic disenfranchisement.

Since its conception, there have been strong, varying opinions of the TPP. Some contend that the TPP is just an extension of corporate greed and western expansion, like the Citizens Trade Campaign who argued that passage of the TPP will “do everything from hurt public health to accelerate global warming.” While many in Washington on both sides of the isle see the TPP as a catalyst for building and maintaining the types of jobs Americans need most to remain competitive in the technology and manufacturing industries.

Posted By: Jonathan Sherman

Sources: The Washington Times, Forbes Magazine, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Photo credit: Jefe de Estado participó hoy en la Reunión de Negociaciones del Acuerdo de Asociación Transpacífico (TPP) courtesy of flickr user Presidencia Perú

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