Should Free Traders Support the Trans-Pacific Partnership? An Assessment of America's Largest Preferential Trade Agreement

78 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2016

See all articles by Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

Cato Institute

Simon Lester

Cato Institute

Scott Lincicome

Cato Institute

Daniel R. Pearson

Cato Institute

K. Watson

Cato Institute

Date Written: September 12, 2016

Abstract

After nearly six years of negotiations, a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was reached in October 2015. The deal was subsequently signed by the governments of the United States and 11 other parties in Wellington, New Zealand in February 2016. In terms of the value of trade and share of global output accounted for by the 12 member countries, the TPP is the largest U.S. trade agreement to date.

Legislation to implement the TPP could be introduced in Congress this year, but with caustic anti-trade rhetoric permeating the presidential election campaigns and the major-party candidates publicly opposing the deal, prospects for passing such legislation in 2016 look bleak. Election-year politics aside, skepticism and, in some cases, outright opposition to the TPP have been registering across the political and ideological spectra. The usual anti-trade arguments from labor, environmental, and other groups on the left have been supplemented by free-market oriented assertions that the TPP is too much about global governance and too little about market liberalization.

This paper presents a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the TPP from a free trader’s perspective. Brief summaries, assessments, scores on a scale of 0 (protectionist) to 10 (free trade), and scoring rationales are provided for each evaluated chapter. Of the 22 chapters analyzed, we found 15 to be liberalizing (scores above 5), 5 to be protectionist (scores below 5), and 2 to be neutral (scores of 5). Considered as a whole, the terms of the TPP are net liberalizing.

Note We were able to analyze and “score” 22 of the 30 TPP chapters. Eight chapters did not lend themselves to qualification or scoring.

Keywords: Free Trade, Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP

JEL Classification: F13

Suggested Citation

Ikenson, Daniel J. and Lester, Simon and Lincicome, Scott and Pearson, Daniel R. and Watson, K., Should Free Traders Support the Trans-Pacific Partnership? An Assessment of America's Largest Preferential Trade Agreement (September 12, 2016). CATO Working Paper No. 39. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2842266 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2842266

Daniel J. Ikenson (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

Simon Lester

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

Scott Lincicome

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

Daniel R. Pearson

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

K. Watson

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

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