Trade deal opens new markets

By: Regina Wright ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Diplomats from the countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership gathered after the final agreement was made.

Negotiations that began in President Barack Obama’s first term for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have reached a final agreement among all 12 nations involved in the partnership. Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore formed the trade agreement in 2006. Later, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and the U.S. joined in the proposal of a trade agreement between these Pacific Rim countries. Together, these countries account for 40 percent of the world’s economy.

TPP would decrease export tariffs and import quotas, making it less expensive for businesses to export and import from the other nations in the partnership. It will also open new Asian-Pacific markets in which American companies can invest. The TPP agreement has become the center of a fierce debate. It is compared to the North American Free Trade Agreement, and used as a platform topic for some of the 2016 presidential candidates. This is in part because its contents and negotiations have all been kept secret.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, along with labor unions, have publically denounced the trade agreement. Republican candidate Donald Trump tweeted about the agreement, writing, “The incompetence of our current administration is beyond comprehension. TPP is a terrible deal.” Critics of the trade agreement claim that it will send jobs overseas because companies will take advantage of the lower-wage workers in the developing economies of some of the partnered nations such as Mexico, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Obama and one of TPP’s leading supporters, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, claim that the partnership will add billions of dollars to the global economy and strengthen the developing economies of the partnered Pacific Rim countries. TPP has been the central focus of Obama’s trade agenda, but it will not take effect unless the U.S. Congress and all 11 of the other partnered countries’ legislature pass it.