21 Feb 2016 - We Need this Trade Agreement

How many times over the past few decades have you heard me say “Watching a Trade Agreement being negotiated is like watching paint dry”? It takes forever; it is contentious; every country involved has segments of the economy that feel they got a bad deal. We certainly saw this with NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement that took years of negotiations before it became reality, and now with a few minor exceptions, is considered a success in Mexico, Canada and the U.S.

But now the current trade agreement that is in trouble is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement involving twelve nations on the Pacific Rim. Negotiations began six or seven years ago. The parties involved have finally put together the language of the agreement and they had a ceremonial signing in Auckland, New Zealand just a few days ago. If it happens, it will be one of the world’s biggest free trade agreements. However, the language must now go back to each of the twelve countries and their governments must approve the language before it becomes a formal trade agreement.

Is there opposition? Of course, it’s a trade agreement and you will find people against it in varying levels in every country, including the U.S. President Obama wants it, but many of his fellow Democrats in the House don’t want it. As a result, just a few days ago the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he would not bring the trade agreement to the floor of the House because he doesn’t see enough support to get it passed. He went on to say the Obama administration must do more to persuade lawmakers to accept the trade deal.

The Speaker said and I quote - “I don’t think the votes are there right now because of the concerns of some groups on what is in the TPP“. The agreement is very important to President Obama. He would like to sign it before he leaves the White House, and sees it as being one of the highlights of his term as President of the United States.

Yet, it is not just us. New Zealand, the country that hosted the ceremonial signing, had protesters outside the building where the ceremony was taking place because several groups in that country are opposed to the agreement. Many labor unions in all the countries are opposed because they see the threat of a loss of jobs with free trade. And many are asking why the second largest economy in the world, China, is not included in the TPP.

It is extremely important to farmers and ranchers in the United States because it will reduce trade barriers and lower import tariffs that now exist against our farm exports to the member countries. And let us not forget that 40% of the world’s agricultural trade takes place among the twelve nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement.

I do not want to see American farmers, or manufacturers, left out of that agreement. It is especially important to our economy and I would urge you to contact your member of Congress and urge a ‘yes’ vote on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership Trade Agreement.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.