Free Trade Benefits vs. Fears of Foreign Goods

Richard Ebeling
Epic Times: May 3, 2015

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke before a joint session of the U.S. Congress on April 29, 2015 and offered his “eternal condolences to the souls of all American people that were lost during World War II,” but never directly said that he was sorry for Imperial Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The real purpose for his visit to Washington, D.C. and his address before Congress was to push for Congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S., Japan and 10 other nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam).

Meant to extend and widen trade and related commercial relationships between the participating countries, it is also been presented as a way for the U.S. to maintain his economic and political power in East Asia in the face of the rising influence of China in that part of the world.

TPP is a “Managed Trade” Agreement – Not Free Trade

With negotiations among the twelve governments going on “behind closed doors,” proponents and critics have offered alternative accounts of what is being negotiated and whose benefit will be served in the final agreement.

What should be most clear is that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a free trade agreement. Parts of it may, no doubt, lower some trade barriers, thus making easier the production, sale and purchase of a wider variety of imports and exports. However, TPP, like all other trade agreements in the post-World War II era is a managed trade agreement.

That is, governments of the respective participating nations negotiate on the terms, limits and particular conditions under which goods and services will be produced and then bought and sold in each other’s countries. The Japanese government, for instance, is determined to maintain a degree of trade protectionism for the benefit of Japan’s rice producers, who are fearful of open competition from their American rivals.

The U.S. government is under pressure from the American auto industry, for example, to continue limiting greater competition from the Japanese automobile industry. American labor unions want to restrict the importing of goods produced at lower labor costs abroad than U.S. manufactured goods, because American consumers might prefer to buy the lower priced foreign products and thus risking the loss of some of their union members’ jobs.

Free Trade Can be Simple and Unilateral

A real free trade agreement, on the other hand, can be a very simple matter. Congress would pass and the President then sign a short piece of legislation stating something to the affect:

“The United States government herewith eliminates all existing barriers, restrictions, and prohibitions on the free and unrestricted importing and exporting, buying and selling of all goods and services between the United States and any and all nations in the world. The U.S. government declares that all forms of peaceful and non-fraudulent trade, commerce and exchange is the private matter of the individual citizens of the United States and any and all others situated in another country. This law takes affect immediately upon passage.”

Indeed, the United States does not even need the mutual agreement of any other nation to implement free trade. The U.S., with just such a piece of legislation, can establish free trade unilaterally; even if other nations kept some or all of their own trade-restricting barriers in place, America would still be better off.

(read the full article at Epic Times)