The Death of the Toxic Trade Deal TPP Was Long Overdue – But Don’t Praise Trump for It

It’s good news that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead. In fact, the toxic deal – a pacific version of US-EU deal TTIP – was already dead before Trump took office. Popular pressure from trade unions and campaign groups in the US and elsewhere had killed it. Even free-trader Hillary Clinton turned against it during her campaign. So let’s not thank Trump for something which campaigners defeated.

More than that, don’t assume Trump even remotely shares our vision on trade. Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders said: 

“Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multinational corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers, then I would be delighted to work with him.”

Trump isn’t serious about helping American workers, you only have to look at some of his other proposals – and his business history – to know that. But more worrying still, pitting the interests of American workers against everyone and everything thing else – workers elsewhere, climate change, public services – takes us in a very dangerous direction.  

In the 1930s, many governments responded to the Great Depression by trying to shift their economic problems onto other counties. State’s pushed up tariffs and quotas, competitively devalued currencies, underwrote big business monopolies. These policies aren’t always and everywhere wrong, but in the 30s they were used to  promote exports (and national employment) at the expense of imports (and foreign employment). Other governments retaliated in a downward spiral that eventually fuelled the Second world War.

Trump’s economic theory is not so different. He doesn’t object to the impact of TPP (or the North American Free Trade Agreement) on Mexican workers or farmers, or on the environment, or on inequality. He simply believes American power could be even more blatantly used to force more extreme concessions out of other countries. He believes that the state should work far more closely with big business, in some ways becoming indistinguishable from  it.