The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Today, the United States agreed on the largest regional trade accord in history along with 11 other nations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) unites in international trade a group of countries that, according to BBC, accounts for approximately 40% of the world’s economy. The proposed members of the TPP are the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, and New Zealand. The Peterson Institute further estimates that this trade deal could generate an additional $295 billion per year in international commerce within the decade.

The TPP, which was planned to be agreed upon in 2012, generated an exceptional amount of controversy within each of the member countries. Even now, there is at the very least months to go before the TPP Agreement may be passed, as each nation debates the issue, especially in Congress, where there is considerable bipartisan protest.

But let’s take a moment to dissect this trade agreement. First of all, a leaked draft of the TPP Agreement was published by Wikileaks in 2013, and generated a large amount of outrage among various advocacy groups. The reasons for criticism include the secrecy of the negotiations, the incredibly large scale of the pact, and the potentially harmful effects it could have on intellectual property rights, income inequality, and the environment. Among the most notable opposers of the TPP is Senator Bernie Sanders, who asserts that the TPP is “part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights;

dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws”.

On the other hand, the TPP, with its current members, is structured so that the US would have a large increase in control within the Asia-Pacific region. More specifically, it is a pact that excludes China and acts as defense against the nation’s skyrocketing economic growth and global trade. The agreement would also end thousands of tariffs that currently place restrictions on American goods, such as US auto exports to Japan. Increases in global trade have historically boosted the US’s per capita income. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors estimate that American consumers gain about 29% of their purchasing power from trade.

To sum up the gains and losses of the agreement: we lower more barriers in international trade and investment in exchange for potentially compromising IP laws and a probable increase in outsourcing.

-Yutong Zhou