‘This report indicates the TPP will produce almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.’
By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2016
The government’s own assessment of the toxic Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) shows that the controversial trade deal will produce negligible economic benefits while damaging most Americans’ jobs and wages.
The U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) report (pdf), issued Wednesday, shows that the TPP “would likely have only a small positive effect on U.S. growth,” Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the ITC estimates a worsening balance of trade for 16 out of 25 U.S. agriculture, manufacturing, and services sectors that cover vehicles, wheat, corn, auto parts, titanium products, chemicals, seafood, textiles and apparel, rice, and even financial service. Indeed, output in the manufacturing sector would be $11.2 billion lower with TPP than without it in 2032, the ITC found, with employment down 0.2 percent. And while vehicle production would gain, auto parts, textiles, and chemicals would see reductions, the trade panel said.
The analysis also estimates the proposed 12-nation trade deal—a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s economic agenda—will increase the U.S. global trade deficit by $21.7 billion by 2032.
“This report validates that the TPP is not worth passing,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International president Leo W. Gerard, who heads up one of many labor organizations opposed to the agreement.
“In the past, similar reports have proven to widely underestimate the negative impact of trade agreements on American workers and the economy,” he said. “This report as mandated by law indicates the TPP will produce almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.”
To that end, Gerard said, “this may be the most damning government report ever submitted for a trade agreement.”
And even those lackluster benefits the ITC’s report does project should be taken with a grain of salt, argued economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) on Thursday.
“It is worth noting that the USITC modeling exercises in the past have not been good predictors of the outcomes of trade deals,” he said. “For example, their models failed to project the large increases in the deficit with Mexico following NAFTA, the increase in the deficit with China following PNTR, and the increase in the deficit with Korea following the U.S.-Korea trade agreement.”
What’s more, he added, “the USITC also has not done well in projecting winning and losing sectors from trade agreements. A recent analysis by CEPR found no relationship between the industries that were projected to be export and import gainers and losers from the trade deal with Korea and the actual outcome.”
Indeed, said Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch director Lisa Gilbert: “Given that the ITC’s past studies on pending trade pacts have usually projected improvements in the U.S. trade balance and gains for specific economic sectors but the opposite occurred, that this study projects an increase in the U.S. trade deficit and losses for 16 of 25 U.S. economic sectors suggests that if ever implemented, the TPP could really be disastrous.”