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October 6, 2015

Making Sense of the TPP: Don't Confuse Trade With Trade Deals

I greet claims that the TPP will boost American growth and jobs with a healthy dose of skepticism. We already trade pretty freely with most of these countries, and tariffs are low enough already that taking them down further will yield marginal, non-measurable gains. In this regard, trade itself matters more than trade agreements, and trade has benefits and costs. TPP proponents correctly note that trade increases the supply of goods and thus lowers consumer prices. Conversely, TPP opponents are on solid ground when noting that what really matters for the American workforce are net exports. We've run large trade deficits in this country for decades, and they are one channel through which globalization has been a factor in rising inequality, wage stagnation, and the loss of manufacturing jobs. So if it's not about growth and jobs, what is it about?

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