Tuesday, January 21, 2014

TransPacific Partnership Agreement: Good or Bad?

On one side you have the Huffington Post blog and on the other you have the Washington Post. Both are citing statistics from the global economies. The Huffington Post thinks the TPP will be horrible for the US because it will bypass each country's regulations in favor of corporate corruption. Sorry, that's the kind of language the blog writer is using in the piece. From what the blog writer saw, it strengthens patents (which I would think would be a good thing) and overrules any limitations on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) chemical disclosures. Of course, a lot of this is speculation because the agreement hasn't been made public.

However, that doesn't stop the Huff Post blogger to use words like "may include" and "may limit". Ambassador Froman said in a press conference that the negotiations are on a double track of setting rules and opening market access, including access to Japan, which seems to be key to any economic growth for the US. The blogger then lambasts reports regarding NAFTA. He accuses media and economics professionals in covering up the truth about NAFTA. Through 'bizarre assertions' and 'made-up numbers', there are a lot of people who want NAFTA to look better than it really is, according the Huff Post writer. When there are emotionally tainted words being used, it's hard to assume he hasn't thrown his own bias into the selection of data he purports gives a real indication of NAFTA's success.

The Washington Post admits that the US already has free trade agreements with most of the nations, and so the TPP probably will not do much for the US, as confirmed by the Peterson Institute's estimate for the US Trade Office of an economic increase of $77 billion, a mere 0.5% of GDP--and one-half of one month's exports. The Peterson report shows that trade has already increased 46% with those countries as the global economy has rebounded from the low of the global economic crisis.

As a side note to all of this, it is nice to see that small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have been doing almost all of the exporting to the Partnership countries. Because they constitute nearly all of the exports, this has been good news for the SMEs who sometimes get tossed around by the their larger corporate competitors. If the TPP agreement strengthens patents, that will help SMEs. Large corporations, with the existence of free trade agreements with most of the countries in the TPP, could have taken advantage of any laxity in rules already. It's probably not going to make a difference for them.

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