CRF Blog

Backgrounder on the TTP and U.S. Trade Policy

by Bill Hayes

Backgrounders from the Council on Foreign Relations are primers on pressing world issues. They usually include histories, summaries, images, graphs, video, and links to additional resources.

A recent Backgrounder was on The Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S. Trade Policy.

The post–World War II era has seen the dramatic growth of international trade and the creation of a global trading framework based on the principle of open economies. The United States has been at the forefront of these changes even as it is less reliant on trade than nearly any other developed country.

With global trade talks stalling, the United States has turned to regional and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). Having won the passage of FTAs with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, President Barack Obama is now struggling to finalize the Asia-centered Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which he heralds as a “next generation” trade agreement. Opposition to the TPP and a similar deal with Europe has come from many in the U.S. labor movement, as well as some economists, who argue that trade agreements in their current form hurt workers, degrade the U.S. manufacturing base, and exacerbate income inequality. Advocates counter that FTAs create jobs by opening new markets to U.S. exports and making it easier for U.S. companies to compete in foreign markets. [more]

For a related and free online lesson, see “Free Trade, Globalization, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” It is available from  CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action Archive. It is currently only in PDF and you will have to register (if you haven’t already), which is free.