It’s not clear that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a good idea:
No Big Deal, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Everyone knows that the Obama administration’s domestic economic agenda is stalled in the face of scorched-earth opposition from Republicans. And that’s a bad thing: The U.S. economy would be in much better shape if Obama administration proposals like the American Jobs Act had become law.
It’s less well known that the administration’s international economic agenda is also stalled, for very different reasons. In particular,… the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or T.P.P. — doesn’t seem to be making much progress…
And you know what? That’s O.K. It’s far from clear that the T.P.P. is a good idea. … I am in general a free trader, but I’ll be undismayed and even a bit relieved if the T.P.P. just fades away. …
There’s a lot of hype about T.P.P. …. Supporters like to talk about the fact that the countries at the negotiating table comprise around 40 percent of the world economy, which they imply means that the agreement would be hugely significant. But trade among these players is already fairly free, so the T.P.P. wouldn’t make that much difference.
Meanwhile, opponents portray the T.P.P. as a huge plot, suggesting that it would destroy national sovereignty and transfer all the power to corporations. This, too, is hugely overblown. …
What the T.P.P. would do, however, is increase the ability of certain corporations to assert control over intellectual property. Again, think drug patents and movie rights.
Is this a good thing from a global point of view? Doubtful. … True, temporary monopolies are, in fact, how we reward new ideas; but arguing that we need even more monopolization is very dubious — and has nothing at all to do with classical arguments for free trade. …
In short, there isn’t a compelling case for this deal… Nor does there seem to be anything like a political consensus in favor, abroad or at home. …
So what I wonder is why the president is pushing the T.P.P. at all. … My guess is that we’re looking at a combination of Beltway conventional wisdom — Very Serious People always support entitlement cuts and trade deals — and officials caught in a 1990s time warp, still living in the days when New Democrats tried to prove that they weren’t old-style liberals by going all in for globalization. …
So don’t cry for T.P.P. If the big trade deal comes to nothing, as seems likely, it will be, well, no big deal.
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