Former trade official says ditching TPP would be massive mistake

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A former top trade official said Monday that withdrawing from an expansive free trade agreement in the Pacific Rim would be a grave misstep for the United States.

Charlene Barshefsky, a former U.S. Trade Representative who served under President Bill Clinton, said abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be a “catastrophic mistake.”

{mosads}“If you don’t like it, fix it; don’t abandon it,” Barshefsky told business leaders during a bipartisan meeting by the group No Labels.

President-elect Donald Trump has said that on his first day in office he will pull the United States out of the deal with 11 other nations and focus instead on bilateral trade agreements.

He also has said he would label China a currency manipulator, overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement and potentially pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization.

Leaving the WTO is another possible move that Barshefsky called “really frightening.”

Failing to fully engage in the Pacific Rim puts U.S. leadership at risk in the region and has geopolitical ramifications that will eventually cede economic and strategic power to an increasingly muscular China, she said.

“China will fill the vacuum,” she said. 

Barshefsky argued that the TPP would also create a higher standard rules-based system for global trade that could eventually stretch around the world.

Looking at the bigger picture on trade, the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union, which combined comprise 65 percent of the global economy, would serve to attract other huge economies like India and Brazil and potentially even China, helping to maintain U.S. competitiveness. 

President Obama had hoped to get TPP through Congress and set up the TTIP for the next president. But after Trump won the presidency Republican leaders in Congress put the deal on ice for the foreseeable future. 

Tags Bill Clinton Donald Trump

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