Georgetown on the Hill: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Are the Critics Right?”
A capacity crowd filled a House Ways and Means Committee room in the Rayburn House Office building on March 30 at noon for discussion and Q+A on the pros and cons of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) presented by the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy.
The expert panel included Christine Bliss, President, Coalition of Services Industries; James Fatheree, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Jason Kearns, Chief International Trade Counsel (Minority Staff) U.S. House Ways and Means Committee; Pietra Rivoli, Professor, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University; and Bob Vastine, Senior Industry Fellow at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy.
The TPP is one of the most hotly debated trade deals. No trade agreement has sparked as much controversy since the debate over NAFTA, which too loomed large in a Presidential campaign. (Some will recall the debate between Al Gore and Ross Perot during the 1992 Presidential campaign.)
The TPP history is an amazing story. It began in 2002 with a group of three small countries (New Zealand, Chile and Singapore). In 2008, the U.S. joined the original three plus Brunei to participate in negotiations of financial services and investments. The TPP soon took root and grew to be the most comprehensive, innovative trade agreement ever negotiated. In its last stages, Canada, Mexico and Japan insisted on joining and, although this complicated the deal, it substantially raised the economic prominence of the deal by now including almost every major economy in the Pacific Rim, with the notable exception of China.
Many think the TPP is a strategic imperative for the U.S. in Asia, and many others disagree. Whichever position one takes, there is no doubt that the TPP is tremendously important. Whether the U.S. joins or not, the TPP will incontrovertibly transform the economy of the Pacific Rim.
The Georgetown Center brought together a diverse panel of experts to discuss the costs and the benefits of the TPP from diverse perspectives. The presentation began with Jason Kearns, who helps shape policy and law on the Democratic side of the aisle. Christine Bliss focused on the services dimension of the TPP. She discussed both benefits of the TPP and areas in which improvements could be made. James Fatheree represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s stated view that the TPP is on net beneficial, while also noting that many in the business community take the position that the TPP needs improvement. Pietra Rivoli’s remarks focused on the spate of economic studies that have recently assessed the TPP. She offered an assessment of the several areas of agreement.