By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
Trade debates often begin with economic arguments. But when those prove unconvincing, proponents invariably resort to geopolitical claims, arguing “this deal is critical for U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.” The same arguments used over the past 20 years now feature heavily in efforts to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We are warned that failure to pass a trade deal will benefit whatever nation is considered a threat to U.S. economic or foreign policy dominance from “Japan” in the 1990s to “Asia and Europe” to “Latin American anti-U.S. populists,” and now, China. The pitch is typically accompanied by dire predictions about waning U.S. influence, rising regional insecurity (whatever region the pact involves) and specific bad outcomes for prospective trade partner countries. Time and again, Congress has passed a trade deal only to find that some predictions came true in spite of (and sometimes because of) the pact’s enactment and others prove entirely unfounded. In the case of the TPP, claims it would benefit national security are particularly cynical.