Would the US rejoin the TPP? And what is the TPP anyway?

Monday, 16 April 2018  Media Alerts

"Donald Trump is exploring re-joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership – or TPP, and no wonder. It's a good thing for world trade," says the UNSW Business School's Tim Harcourt. "Trump made abandoning the TPP a central plank of his election. Now, oddly Mr Trump has mused about re-joining TPP negotiations. Perhaps he realises how it would free up world trade, eliminate tariffs, and make good cheaper for consumers."

Australia and a group of 10 other nations resurrected the trade agreement earlier this year, despite Mr Trump's decision to abandon the TPP deal in early 2017 as part of his "America first" agenda.

"As the culmination of that momentum, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is probably the most significant economic announcement of the 21st century so far in terms of Australia's future," says Mr Harcourt.

Mr Trump's rejection of the deal rattled allies and raised questions about whether protectionism will impede US economic growth.

"We were staring down the barrels of a global battle for free trade, thanks to Trump's protectionist trade policies. This would have potentially serious implications for trade-focused economies such as Australia. However, the 'Aussie Battler' could come out better off," says Mr Harcourt.

Tim Harcourt is the JW Nevile Fellow of Economics UNSW Business School. He says "now, more than ever, what we don't want to see is protectionism. We need cooperative trade to boost the world economy."

  • Twelve countries that border the Pacific Ocean signed up to the TPP in February 2016, representing roughly 40% of the world's economic output.
  • The 12 countries involved have a collective population of about 800 million - almost double that of the European Union's single market.
  • The pact aimed to deepen economic ties between nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth. Members had also hoped to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation.
  • President Trump pulled out of the TPP in 2017. However, a new form now comprises Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
  • The signatories to the TPP would either eliminate or reduce tariffs and other restrictive policies from agricultural products and industrial goods.
  • Not all tariffs - which are taxes on imports – would be removed under a full TPP, and some would take longer than others. In all, some 18,000 tariffs are included.

Tim Harcourt was previously chief economist at Austrade. As a trade specialist at UNSW he has studied the international trade landscape for many years and can comment on all parts of the TPP.

For further comment call Tim Harcourt on 02 9385 3816, 0408 485 479, or Email tim.harcourt@unsw.edu.au.

Media contact: Julian Lorkin: 02 9385 9887.

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