These days you can buy just about anything you want from just about anywhere you want, and if you’re smart about it, at just about any price you want. This is all thanks to trade, which is generally considered to be a good thing for consumers, companies and countries. It’s also pretty deeply integrated into the global economy and not really something a country can just walk away from. But if you watched the Democratic or Republican conventions over the last couple of weeks it seems quite a few protesters were saying exactly that. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is that massive 12-country trade deal you’ve heard about on the news which has yet to be approved by Congress, and which both major party nominees say they oppose. But if trade is supposed to be good for the economy, then why all the drama?
The TPP debate seems to have turned into a general, and generally pointless, argument over whether trade deals are good for the country. Spoiler alert: the answer depends a lot on what’s actually in them. Some of the most controversial areas of the TPP include cars and import tariffs; biologic drugs and intellectual property protection; e-commerce and freedom of data flow; and state-owned companies and legal disputes. On top of this, anti-trade nationalistic rhetoric is at an all-time high from voters who feel they are struggling and are worried about their jobs being given to robots or foreign workers, so the TPP has become a scapegoat for all things un-American.
However the TPP is the centerpiece of President Obama’s pivot to Asia and one of his signature foreign policy objectives, so he still plans to move ahead with it during the lame duck session of Congress after the election. If approved, the TPP would help the US to write the rules of trade for the next generation in the world’s most economically dynamic region. Unfortunately Obama’s chances don’t look so good since the protests over the TPP look more like a proxy battle against the “rigged” establishment. Maybe you should buy that Japanese car before 2017.
Feel like some partnerships are just made to go wrong? Movie for your mood: Focus