By Anne Felix
Originally published April 4, 2017
One of the first official decisions that Donald Trump made after his inauguration was to withdraw US support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Mr Trump argued throughout the election that the pact, and many other global trade deals, was harmful to American companies and American workers and that he would withdraw from it immediately. He followed through on his word. When he withdrew from the partnership, Mr Trump stated he was going to “stop the ridiculous trade deals”.
Mr Trump is hoping to radically reshape America’s trade policies and partnerships, which will have an enormous impact on the country’s economic outlook . Mr Trump’s aggressive stance on trade is sure to have a strong impact on how the country is viewed on the world stage. In the short term, there may well be a surge in American manufacturing and a rise in the number of Americans choosing to purchase products made at home, but in the long term this approach to economic growth is unsustainable. It is only through prominence on a global stage and by exporting to, and working with, the rest of the world that the long-term growth for American businesses that Mr Trump is promising can be realized.
Historically, one of the best ways for a country to increase its economic prospects is to join the global trading system. This is how many European powers regained their economic strength following World War II, and, more recently, how countries such as China, India, and South Korea moved so quickly from poverty-stricken and indebted to major economic powers. While America is already economically strong and stable, by limiting American presence on the world economic stage and having a more introverted, insular approach to trade, Mr Trump is severely limiting the market available for American made products.
As Chinese influence on the world stage continues to grow, particularly regarding its exports, the TPP was seen as a way to create an economic bulwark against its rising economic power and tie the Western world to East Asia. Other Western countries, such as Canada and the UK, remain a part of the partnership. There is a strong fear that an America outside of the TTP alliance will continue to look inwards, leaving the path clear for China to continue its rise to global power and dominate the Asian export market.
President Trump won his recent election using the slogan that he would “make America great again”, but in reality, for most white working class Americans, it is likely that President Trump will be making their America poor again. Although poverty currently remains a very real problem in the United States, in the past 50 years, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of Americans living in poverty. It is predicted that under Mr Trump’s leadership, many Americans who have been struggling to make ends meet on a monthly basis will be plunged further into debt, with little social safety net in place to catch them when they fall. What’s more, those living in poverty in the rest of the world and relying on American trade for survival have good reason now to be concerned. By opening up markets under Barack Obama and choosing to import products from the world’s poorest nations, rich nations were creating jobs in countries where acute poverty is rife. These jobs created thanks to American imports through pacts such as the TTP saved millions from lives of destitution and those same people will now worry about their economic future.
Baker, P. (2017). Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s Signature Trade Deal. The New York Times. ↩︎