Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
While many analysts are trying to predict Trump’s economic agenda — Tax cuts? Infrastructure? Deportations? — and its possible impacts, let’s not forget about the demise of the Pacific trade deal. From The Economist:
TPP’s collapse removes the main economic plank of Barack Obama’s much-hyped, largely abortive “pivot” to Asia. It leaves a gaping hole in the architecture of Asian commerce. And it adds to the strong headwinds that are buffeting global trade. … On the basis of size alone, TPP would have been important, the largest regional trade deal in history. It encompassed 12 Pacific countries, including America, Japan and Canada (see chart). Together, they account for two-fifths of the world economy. But what made it all the more significant was its strategic intent. Notably absent from the membership was China. Economically, this made little sense. Studies indicated that including China, the world’s biggest exporter, would have substantially expanded the benefits of TPP. But America wanted to show that it could set Asia’s economic agenda. China might eventually have been invited to join TPP, but only after America had written “the rules of the road”, as its negotiators liked to say. Matthew Goodman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank, considers its collapse a “body blow” to American economic policy in Asia. … It is also a blow to the global economy. Over the years rich countries have cut tariffs to the point where the main obstacles to commerce now lie in regulations that discriminate against foreign companies. TPP took aim at barriers hidden in government-procurement guidelines and investment restrictions. It would have raised the bar for future trade deals, says Jayant Menon of the Asian Development Bank: “That’s where the biggest loss lies.” … For Asia’s reformers, there is thus no getting around the disappointment of TPP’s demise. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, a Vietnamese economist, says that Vietnam had hoped to use the deal to pressure sluggish state-owned companies to shape up. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, viewed it as part of his programme of structural reforms, since it would have exposed coddled Japanese industries such as health care and agriculture to more competition. Even in China, liberal officials thought TPP might prompt the government to loosen its grip on markets in order to join one day.
The “strategic intent” of the trade agreement and its geopolitical implications have been underplayed and under-discussed during the election season. But if your goal is withdrawal and pulling up the drawbridge, maybe that’s no so important. Anyway, China seems delighted. From the Financial Times:
China has offered itself as the Pacific Rim’s lead advocate for free trade, as US President Barack Obama defended the remnants of what he had hoped would be one of his biggest policy legacies. Mr Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, and the now-stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that was supposed to be its economic backbone, have for years given the US a leadership role at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. But the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned on a protectionist platform and against Mr Obama’s TPP, has rewritten that formula. But in public and private meetings APEC officials said the realities of a rapid shift in power to China following Mr Trump’s victory were apparent in Lima. “There is a different dynamic around the table. People are hedging their bets,” said one senior official.