Trans Pacific Partnership opens doors to trade for Washington state
People in trade-dependent Washington ought to be in favor of most agreements that open doors to trade — including the latest effort, the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Seattle Times Editorial
WHETHER it is airplanes, software, apples or wheat, trade is the lifeblood of jobs and income in the state of Washington. People here ought to be in favor of most agreements that open doors to more trade — including the latest effort, the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Trade connects, with exports and imports both. It is about keeping up with change, some of which hurts for a while, and also about creating change. Trade kills jobs, as the critics say, but it also creates jobs. It does not make countries poor. It makes them rich. Look at the high-wage economies of the world: All of them trade, and on a huge scale.
President Obama knows this. But much of the national Democratic coalition fears otherwise, which the president was reminded of last week in Portland, where pulp-and-paper workers picketed his $500-a-plate fundraiser. The spokesman for the pickets complained that Obama had run for president as a critic of trade agreements but changed his tune once elected. So he did. Obama's performance was a bit slippery, but better that than to be steadfast and wrong.
The president's efforts for trade agreements are laudable, as far as they go. He ought to push harder for them. He did approve the Colombia, Panama and South Korea agreements negotiated under George W. Bush, after some modifications to address some concerns of organized labor.
Now Obama is pushing for this Pacific agreement, which includes important provisions on copyright, technical standards, trade in protected species, protection of foreign investors and the rights of workers under the International Labor Organization. All this would apply to Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
It may also apply to Canada and Mexico, which would be a neat way of effectively making some changes to NAFTA.
That's progress. Bringing these issues to the full World Trade Organization would be even more progress. The Obama administration has a WTO effort under way in technology, but on issues like subsidies and trade barriers in agriculture — of major importance here — there has been little leadership from The Other Washington.