Promoting free trade is a doctrine essential to the growth of the U.S. economy as well as others. Intending to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is an utterly wrong decision that turns its back on this idea.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has announced a list of policies he would give instructions for on Jan. 20 next year, his first day in the White House. For the first time since the presidential election, he has made clear his intention of pulling his country out of the TPP.
Throughout the campaign period, Trump put forward his view opposing the TPP, saying that unfair trade deals would lead to the loss of American jobs and the decline of its manufacturing industry.
This time, he once again emphatically called the TPP “a potential disaster for our country.”
The TPP is a set of rules for trade and investment on the largest scale in the world, broadly encompassing matters from the elimination or reduction of trade tariffs to the protection of intellectual property. The pact will promote the economic growth of Asia and the Pacific region, which will bear fruit in the United States as well.
Trump has indicated his idea of pivoting to bilateral trade deals instead of the TPP. But by doing so, the country can hardly expect to benefit as much as if a wide-area trade agreement, with many countries taking part, were to become reality.
Would its withdrawal from the TPP, a pact that would bring various benefits to U.S. consumers, serve its national interests? It is quite doubtful.
The United States accounts for about 60 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the 12 countries participating in the TPP. Without the United States, the other member countries cannot reach the threshold of representing 85 percent of the combined GDP needed to put the trade pact into force.
Stress significance to U.S.
The leaders of TPP member countries, who are paying close attention to policies yet to be spelled out by Trump, reaffirmed as recently as in a meeting on Saturday that they will promote domestic procedures needed to bring the pact into effect.
Speaking at a press conference held before Trump’s announcement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said, “A TPP without the United States would be meaningless.”
There is a possibility that Trump may change his policy. It is important for TPP member countries to unite and persistently point out to the United States the significance of the TPP.
Shouldn’t the remaining 11 countries concurrently consider ways to keep the TPP framework alive by proceeding with domestic procedures, even if the United States pulls out of the pact?
Besides the issue of trade, Trump highlighted lifting restrictions on the energy sector, including shale gas. He said he would create “many millions of high paying jobs.” But a concrete course of action is yet to be seen.
With regard to building a “wall” on the country’s border with Mexico and deporting illegal immigrants — policies expressed in catchphrases during the campaign — Trump made no reference to these this time. Maybe he wanted to avoid, at least for now, social cracks deepening further over whether such policies should be carried out or not.
Nevertheless, he has not retracted his radical assertions. Trump named a lineup of hard-line conservatives as his choices for the posts of assistant to the president for national security affairs, attorney general and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
If Trump asserts that he will “make America great again,” he must move ahead with shifting to realistic policy lines.