With Europe at the fore, it seems hard to justify paying attention to a congressional hearing about a trade deal nobody’s ever heard of. But the most important trade agreement in a generation—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the subject of a House Ways and Means Committee hearing yesterday—is quietly advancing. The pact, a free-trade deal including the US and several other Pacific Rim nations, will profoundly affect economic and security relations between the US and Asia. And it may ultimately reshape global economics.
Negotiations are only starting, and with Japan just joining the talks they could go on for years. The true significance of TPP lies in what it promises: a new type of broad alliance for a world where trade and investment issues are no longer separate, and together underpin a new geopolitical reality. It’s the first of what could be many “coalitions of the willing” to unlock economic and financial efficiency. And if works, it will act as a magnet to pull many more countries into its fold.
By David Gordon and Sean West
The opinions expressed are their own.
There’s a good reason that only paid staffers and blood relatives seem to approve of Congress, as Senator John McCain recently quipped. But it is not the simple reason that Congress continues to fail, as witnessed in the implosion of the supercommittee. Rather it’s that Congress continuously promises unachievable historic fixes when it should instead be focused on slow progress.
There’s nothing wrong with small-scale fixes when they are the best achievable outcome. Congress is hyperpolarized and both sides are fighting for a mandate to reform the entire economy in line with their competing visions. As underwhelming as the August debt limit deal was, in the current political environment, saving over $2 trillion one way or another was a positive result. The fact that Congress could agree to something this large this year is actually quite stunning.