New Balance shoe are worn during a meeting with Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, on Wednesday, July, 18, 2012 in Washington. DeMartini and workers from the New Balance factories in New England were on Capitol Hill to press their case for saving American job by stopping the elimination of the trariff on imported shoes under discussion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc.)

Confessions Of A Free Trader Who Hates TPP

I am a free trade supporter. I believe that the best way to create jobs, spur American competitiveness, and safeguard economic growth is through market-based and unrestricted trade with other nations. But in the case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I have to agree with President Trump (and, unfortunately, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and even former candidate Hillary Clinton, albeit for different reasons).

America should not be part of the TPP.

First, let me point out where I differ from the president and liberal TPP detractors.

  • Not a protectionist

Trump casts himself as a protectionist. He believes that “fair trade” can only be achieved when America has leverage over other countries. This is a form of hegemony which eventually results in destructive trade wars. It’s wrong-headed, and ignorant of global economic facts. One would think that a man with properties all over the world, who derived income from these properties and brands, would understand better that 35 percent tariffs on foreign cars only cuts off our noses to spite our faces.

  • Not a climate change warrior

Many global warming acolytes hate the TPP because it doesn’t address climate change enough. They think the TPP is a disaster for climate change. Well, maybe it is. But that’s irrelevant to me, because I think the people who shove down our throats push manmade climate change use it as cover for a new economic system based on needs (read: globo-socialism) rather than production, resources, and capital.

  • Not a socialist or a union featherbed

Unlike Sanders, I don’t oppose the TPP because it doesn’t go far enough to promote a socialist worker’s paradise in places like Malaysia and Vietnam, or to strip the Sultan of Brunei of his riches. I don’t oppose it because I think American workers are being shortchanged by “them” or some nefarious greedy capitalists straight out of bad movies.

And unlike Clinton, I don’t support a union featherbed while others lose their jobs overseas to cheaper labor and better tax environments.

TPP is like a drug that wears off

While I believe the goals of the TPP are good for Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan–and the outcome would potentially be good for the United States–I believe the structure, secrecy of negotiations, and giant multilateral nature of the agreement eventually would harm our interests.

Eliminating 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports to 40 countries, while removing duties on imported clothing and footwear would be immediately felt in the U.S. economy. It would be a great shot in the arm. Almost like a drug. But drugs wear off.

In the end, America still has the biggest productive capacity, natural resources, and innovative capital funding in the world–certainly among the TPP countries, which don’t include China. The smaller TPP members would benefit from relations with China and the U.S. would be beholden to the TPP agreement with all of them.

To think that China would not use American commitment to the TPP to its advantage in negotiating with the U.S. is folly. The fear-mongering that without TPP, other trade partners might run to the Chinese for a big fat multilateral agreement is really far-fetched. The Chinese are not as reliable partners as treaty-obeying, lawful, IP-respecting Americans.

I’m not saying the Chinese would make a deal and cheat, but, yeah, they would.

Killing TPP doesn’t kill free trade

In the end, TPP was just like what we’d expect from the liberal, globalist Obama administration which negotiated it. Too big, and too complicated.

While I oppose Trump’s protectionism, I believe he will get more mileage directly negotiating with China, and then the other nations can fall into line with lower tariffs when the two giants have worked things out.

I might be more pollyannish than the liberals, but I really think that Trump will see the light and not go into the darkness of protective tariffs. I have to believe that a man with such international experience knows the value of a bluff, and the value of a real threat. He also should know the value of working with the number two economy in the world (number one accounting for currency valuations by some estimates) versus 40 small economies. If that pisses off New Zealand, I’m sorry.

Killing TPP doesn’t mean the death of free trade. It just means we are taking a different approach to negotiating it. Gone are the globalist, big-tent agreements. Now the U.S. has the flexibility and even light-footedness to make better, and freer, deals without 40 carping nations each with its own peculiarities, and encroaching globalists planting their own flags.

Big agreements like the TPP, the Paris Accords, and Starfleet (ok, that last one was a cheap shot) tie up America like Gulliver was bound by the Lilliputians. While I don’t believe we should pursue “America first” hegemony as Trump has touted and many of his supporters favor, I think we should tackle our largest partners and competitors for economic resources before tying ourselves to globalist wish-lists.

Let’s be gone with the oversize, overblown, overcomplicated TPP, and start over.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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