With the cat-and-dog sparring between Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and her GOP adversary Donald Trump going into overdrive on issues of erased emails and hidden tax returns as the November elections approach, many of the pressing international issues that were on the U.S. foreign policy table have been lost in the shuffle.
One of those issues is the passing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Yet despite a lot of negative publicity being generated in the United States by protectionist naysayers and anti-globalization fearmongers, the passing the TPP is not only a positive step for Washington, but a necessary one.
The United States may still be the biggest force in global trade, but its commercial power is slowly dwindling as countries like China and India continue to rev their international marketing engines and new trade blocs are taking shape around the world.
Meanwhile, U.S. monetary policy has been stretched to the limit, and fiscal policies are bridled by debt and reluctance to spend.
The United States needs to reignite the spark of trade to fuel economic growth.
And the TPP is precisely the way to get that done.
The proposed Pacific trade deal — which would include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — would account for about 40 percent of all international trade today, potentially making it the world’s largest economic partnership.
Encompassing an area of about 800 million people, the TPP would substantially reduce barriers to trade and investment among the member economies, benefiting consumers and businesses, as well as creating new jobs, both in the United States and abroad.
But both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have, in their endless spiel of political rhetoric, blamed U.S. trade agreements for the loss of jobs and a rash of other economic woes.
U.S. President Barack Obama failed to make the case for trade during his first five years in office, and now his window for passing the TPP is closing.
He will need to prioritize the agreement’s approval as a swan song legislation during the lame duck session of Congress between November and January.
But, as it stands now, the trade agreement — already ratified by 12 other countries (Mexico is hoping to get the bill passed by the end of this year) — might falter at the last stage of ratification by the U.S. Congress simply due to political apathy.
The TPP is a natural consequence of and advocate for increased trade, with clear-cut rules and regulations that will facilitate commerce in all fields.
It will eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs that have become obstacles to trade, and it will streamline the export of goods and services for all member countries.
Moreover, it will force participating nations to increase workers’ wages and better regulate harmful pollution.
And finally, it will form a commercial and economic bond between the signatory nations.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership will be a win-win for all its members.
And whether the United States decides to join the new trade club or not, in some form or another, it is going to become a reality.
The United States needs to pass the treaty, and become a member.
Otherwise, when it comes to global trade, it will be left out in the cold.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected].