Global Economics Monthly: Yes, TPP Is About Who Writes The Rules

Volume V, Issue 8, August 2016

Kicking off his campaign to win ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in his State of the Union speech in January, President Obama said, “With TPP, China does not set the rules in [the Asia Pacific]; we do.” This choice of words raised some eyebrows. But undiplomatic as his words sounded, the president put his finger on the strongest rationale for TPP. It is a line of reasoning distinct from the pure economic and strategic arguments made by most supporters of the agreement. Let’s call it the “strategic economic” case and look at why it matters for U.S. interests.
The pure strategic case for TPP is clear and compelling. As we argued in a CSIS commentary earlier this year, TPP is a central pillar of the Obama administration’s “rebalance” policy in the Asia-Pacific region. The agreement will help to renew and reinforce the vital role the United States has played over the past 70 years in ensuring security and prosperity in the Asia Pacific. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore starkly underscored this point during his state visit to Washington earlier this month when he said, “For America’s friends and partners, ratifying the TPP is a litmus test of your credibility and seriousness of purpose.”

Matthew P. Goodman

Matthew P. Goodman

Former Senior Vice President for Economics