As the Trans-Pacific Partnership does or doesn’t approach completion, arguments for and against have had another airing, including the contention that the deal is worth doing for foreign policy reasons to enhance the US’s geopolitical standing in Asia.
[Reposted from The Financial Times | Alan Beattie | March 25, 2015]
This is an appealing fall-back for those who don’t like the deal’s content, but is at best one of the weaker arguments in favour. Whether or not agreements help strategic alliances, the intrusive and one-sided nature of pacts negotiated with the US can arouse resentment as well as cooperation.
There is an intuitive appeal to the geopolitical use of trade agreements. But quickly scanning the two main bilateral trade deals the US has signed over the past decade in the region, Australia and South Korea, it is hard to see much strategic impact. In both nations, belief in the US’s economic power and future superpower status have either stagnated or declined over the past decade. Other geopolitical issues, such as America’s ability to serve as a military counterweight to Chinese or North Korean belligerence, are surely far more important.
And rather than blithely assuming that a consenting trade partner is a happy trade partner, the US might also look at whether the content of TPP is conducive to future good relations.
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