Wisconsin Public Radio

Manufacturing is still critical to the economy United States. Clyde Prestowitz, says it's time to start realizing the positive spillovers that manufacturing creates.

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AMERICAN REVIEW: A New American Century

Conventional wisdom says that America is in decline, that the American century is over, and that the future belongs to the rest...

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How Important Is the TPP for Latin American Countries?

The TPP is actually not very important to the Latin American participants in the negotiations with the exception of Mexico...

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Events & Activities

Stephen Olson at Chinese Development Institute Conference


 Clyde Prestowitz giving presentation to CDI...


Steve Olson teaching trade negotiations at the Mekong Institute...


Stephen Olson to speak at upcoming workshop organized by the International Institute for Trade and Development on 

"Economics of GMS Agricultural trade in goods and services towards the world market"

Chiangmai, Thailand Sep 8-12.

Publishers Weekly Review of "Japan Restored: How Japan Can Reinvent Itself and Why This Is Important for America"

Japan Restored: How Japan Can Reinvent Itself and Why This Is Important for America and the World

Clyde Prestowitz, Author
Labor economist Prestowitz (Rogue Nation) projects visions of Japan’s future in this well-handled study of sensitive politico-economic issues disguised as a love letter to the country. Japan’s economic decline after the 2011 tsunami spurred this peek into a crystal ball. Prestowitz opens with a snapshot of the nation in 2050 as a world leader in technology, medicine, athletics, and education. These strides follow a series of potential crises in 2016 that prompt the government to appoint an Extraordinary National Revitalization Commission. The commission introduces changes that strengthen Japan’s regional power and promote women into management positions, as well as transforming it into an English-speaking nation like Singapore. Finally, the 20th-century zaibatsu model that guaranteed citizens jobs for life is replaced by the profit-driven model that turned Nissan around in 2001. While there’s nothing in this big-themed fabulist tale that seems out of reach, it remains to be seen whether Prestowitz’s well-intentioned advice will make an impact among Japan’s decision makers. (Nov.)

The Hill: TPP Will Undercut U.S. National Security

Clyde Prestowitz
Wednesday, April 29, 2015

To persuade Congress to give him authority for concluding negotiation of a proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, President Obama is emphasizing that such an undertaking is essential to national security.

The appeal to patriotism is always powerful, but in this instance it is being used as the last refuge of a weak economic argument.

The most optimistic estimates of potential U.S. economic gains from a TPP put them at only 1-3 percent of GDP in ten years. But experience suggests this forecast is wildly optimistic, and that while the agreement might be good for some global corporations it could well be a disaster for average citizens. The 2001 deal to bring China into the World Trade Organization was forecast dramatically to reduce the U.S. trade deficit while creating lots of new American jobs. In actuality, the trade deficit soared and millions of jobs were off-shored to China. Like the TPP, the 2012 U.S.-Korea free trade agreement was billed as a super modern deal that also would cut America’s trade deficit while again creating lots of jobs. The reality has been the reverse of the forecast.The most optimistic estimates of potential U.S. economic gains from a TPP put them

The president himself has acknowledged that previous deals didn’t fulfill expectations, but is arguing that “this time will be different.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t say why except to label the TPP a “21st century” agreement.

In fact, it’s a strange mishmash of old deals with a few new countries thrown in.  U.S. free trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, and Singapore already exist. The additions of Brunei, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Viet Nam offer only small markets while much experience suggests low expectations are in order for any market opening by Japan. Oddly, despite the TPP label, the arrangement does not include most of the major Pacific countries like the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, and China. Indeed, of the roughly 750 million person population of the TPP countries, about 500 million are in the Americas. One wonders what the point is in view of the fact that the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, established largely at Washington’s behest in 1989 and encompassing all of the Asia-Pacific countries including both China and Russia, is already committed to achieving free trade by 2020.

To go beyond this and become truly a 21st century agreement, the TPP would have to deal with the truly major issues of the global economy such as currency alignments. Having been the major cause of recent global economic crises, Global capital flows and exchange rate movements are far more important in today’s international economy than flows of goods and services. Yet, the TPP doesn’t mention currencies.

Without a good economic rationale, the White House and the U.S. foreign policy establishment are crying national security, saying that America must reassure its Asian allies of its commitment to them and that dangers would arise from China writing the trade rules of the future. Of course, it was only fifteen years ago that the same people were insisting it was a matter of national security to bring China into the WTO and make it a “responsible stakeholder in the global system.”

While U.S. foreign policy experts now fret, it seems that America’s Asian allies feel already see China as a responsible stakeholder and feel little need of reassurance. Even as they negotiate the TPP, they are already writing the future rules of trade with China by negotiating to join China’s proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), by rushing to become founding members of China’s Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and by concluding bi-lateral free trade agreements such as those between Australia and China, and Singapore and China.

The truth is that the TPP is mostly a solution looking for a problem. It is the knee jerk, orthodox reaction of an outdated foreign policy elite to a misperceived threat in a world they no longer understand, if they ever did. In truth, the agreement itself may well be more of a risk to than a defense of U.S. national security.


McClatchy: Japan's soaring demand for cow tongue drives U.S. exports

December 8, 2014

Japan's soaring demand for cow tongue drives U.S. exports

Rob Hotakainen

SENDAI, Japan -- When Manabu Matsumoto took his fiancé to dinner at the Kisuke cow-tongue restaurant in the Japanese city of Sendai recently, the Tokyo couple faced 28 menu choices.

Among them: mashed tongue, tongue sausage, tongue gravy, tongue salad, tongue stew, fried tongue, salted tongue, tofu slathered with tongue sauce, roasted tongue, smoked tongue, barbecued tongue, tongue mixed with fried egg and the traditional shabu shabu - thinly sliced tongue boiled in water.

In a country where many once regarded Americans as barbarians for eating meat from four-legged animals, Japanese consumers are gobbling up U.S. cow tongue as never before, signaling a rebound for the nation's beef industry.

Only 11 years ago, Japan banned all American beef after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad-cow disease, in one cow in Washington state. 

But after Japan last year loosened restrictions on the age of cattle it would accept, U.S. beef-tongue exports soared by 150 percent in 2013 over the previous year, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation . They're on pace to go even higher this year.

Now you can find cow tongue at tasting events at upscale retail stores. You can grab some at fast-food joints while waiting for a train in downtown Tokyo. One shop invented cow tongue ice cream. Cow tongue potato chips are set to hit the market next year.

But the hottest locale is Sendai, a city of 1 million people with more than 100 restaurants that serve gyutan, or beef tongue.

Matsumoto, a nursing assistant, and his soon-to-be wife, Akiko Hirama, a pharmacist, opted for the charcoal-grilled tongue, a regional favorite.

"It's kind of like a crunchy texture," said Matsumoto, 43, struggling to find the words to describe the appeal. He said he liked the texture and the deep strong flavor that made it taste nothing like steak: "It's just delicious - that's it."

At the Rikyu beef-tongue processing plant in Iwanuma, which employs 120 workers, forklifts move big pallets loaded with cow tongue, most of it imported from Texas and Nebraska, the top two beef-producing states.

For sanitary reasons, employees take "air showers" to blow off any debris from their bodies. They wear rubber boots, hairnets, face masks and pocketless uniforms to ensure that nothing can drop onto the meat as it's sliced and prepared for packaging. With local restaurants eager to protect recipes, no photographs are allowed in the seasoning room. Before the meat is boxed, it goes through metal detectors to look for any shiny objects the animals ate that may have remained in their tongues.

'The American consumer doesn't want it'

In beef parlance, tongue is part of the category of meat known as offal. It includes internal organs - such as hearts, kidneys, livers - that have little value for U.S. consumers.

"The American consumer doesn't want it, so let's export it to somebody that does," said Pete Bonds, the president of the 17,000-member Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth.

Bonds, 62, recalled eating boiled cow tongue as a youth, topped with mayonnaise and horseradish. But he said times had changed.

"I really don't know a lady, a woman, anymore that can cook it. . . . I haven't had a tongue sandwich in, hell, 30 years," he said.

U.S. beef growers have found plenty of foreign buyers for their offal, including South Koreans, who want the animals' large intestines.

"That's a big deal right now - it's probably worth $140 or $150 a head," said Pat Knobbe, a cattle producer from West Point, Neb., who traveled to Japan last year to inspect how cow tongue is processed and consumed. "When we were there, it was worth $8 a pound, and here it's maybe 50 cents a pound."

If Americans don't want the tongues, that's fine with officials at the popular Kisuke restaurant chain, which goes through 1,500 tongues per day at its dozen establishments in Sendai, Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama. All the tongues are imported from the United States.

"I don't want you to eat them. . . . Only we Japanese want to eat," said Hiroyasu Ono, Kisuke's director of sales, speaking through an interpreter to an American reporter. An average entrée costs $12 at the chain, which has roughly 2,500 daily customers.

Kiyoshi Okawara, the chairman of the Sendai Beef Tongue Association and the owner of the Kisuke chain, said cow tongue restaurants had suffered when Japan banned U.S. beef after the mad-cow scare. He fought to end the prohibition.

Now competition is growing. Ono said Japanese restaurants must face restaurants in Mexico that use U.S. tongue in tacos. And he said one Japanese chain had opened a beef tongue restaurant in Los Angeles. With U.S. beef demanding top prices, he said, many restaurants are looking to New Zealand and Australia for cheaper meat.

"American beef is very high quality, so the price is also very high," Ono said.

A market going 'nowhere but up'

U.S. officials have spent a lot of time and money to try to convince Japanese citizens that beef is a good investment. It hasn't been an easy task in a nation that historically has relied on fish for protein and rice for calories.

For over a thousand years before Japanese law changed in 1868, eating meat from four-legged animals was prohibited, mainly for religious reasons. Buddhists frowned on the practice because of their belief that people could be reincarnated as animals, while those practicing Shinto feared that meat would pollute the body, according to a 2009 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture .

The first U.S. envoy to Japan, Townsend Harris, caused a stir in 1856 when he had a cow butchered in Japan to accommodate his fondness for steak dinners. The report said the incident caused great concern among the Japanese, with farmers hiding their cattle so they wouldn't be taken for food by the "barbarians." In 1931, Tokyo butchers erected a statute to mark the spot where the first cow was slaughtered; it's known as "The Temple of the Butchered Cow."

After bombing Japan in World War II, U.S. officials started giving beef to malnourished Japanese children as part of their school lunches. It prompted an epidemic of hives before the children adjusted, but U.S. officials say it paved the way for the American beef industry.

Japan, which didn't begin importing beef in significant quantities until the late 1970s, now ranks as the top foreign market for U.S. cattle producers, both in volume and value, with shipments worth $1.4 billion last year, according to the U.S. Trade Representative's Office.

Seeking more business, beef producers want to get rid of Japan's tariffs on meat as part of the Obama administration's push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact involving 12 nations that would rank as the largest in history if it passes Congress. Currently, most beef cuts carry a 38.5 percent duty, while beef tongue has a tariff of 12.8 percent.

U.S. cattle producers say eliminating the added costs would be a big boon for their industry, which is dominated by five states that account for more than half the nation's cattle sales: Texas ranks first, followed by Nebraska, Kansas, California and Oklahoma.

"It's going to be a battle, but if we can get them to lower the duty on beef, the people that are really going to benefit from it are the Japanese consumers," Bonds said.

Critics of the proposed trade pact say the focus on beef tariffs is misplaced compared with the out-of-whack car trade between the nations, with Japan selling 130 of its vehicles in the United States for every American car sold in Japan.

"I mean, holy cow, while the Japanese are selling us cars and semiconductors and all kinds of other stuff, we're fighting to sell them another pound of beef. It's always seemed kind of weird to me," said ClydePrestowitz, a labor economist who worked as a trade negotiator for the Reagan administration. "It's just not that big a deal. The big deal is in automobiles."

More talks on the trade pact are scheduled in Washington this week, though no agreement is expected anytime soon.

With or without the beef tariffs, said Knobbe, the Nebraska cattle producer, the Japanese market is "going to go nowhere but up." When he went to Japan last year, he said, a single steak sold for $35 to $40. When he returned, he hosted a group of Japanese cow-tongue buyers at his farm. He described them as picky buyers who grilled him on everything from animal weight to feed, showing particular fascination with his cornfields.

Knobbe said he was optimistic because it was younger Japanese who were driving the demand for cow tongue. He said that was the opposite of what had happened in the U.S., where cow tongue has all but disappeared from supermarkets because most younger people won't touch it.

"Older people around here, they would pickle it and eat it," Knobbe said. "But those people who knew how to make it and eat it, they're dead."

Next Monday: Fur takes a hit in Tokyo.

Hotakainen traveled to Japan in October as part of a reporting fellowship sponsored by the International Center for Journalists and funded by the U.S.-Japan Foundation . Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  ; Twitter: @HotakainenRob


Reuters: Let Japan help defend America -- and itself

By Clyde Prestowitz

June 2, 2014 -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now following through on actions laid out in his recent bold speech calling for Japan to defend allies who might be under attack.

But wait, you may ask, hasn’t the United States had a mutual security treaty with Japan for more than half a century?

Well, not quite. Yes, Washington has had a mutual defense-security treaty with Tokyo since 1951. But Japan is not committed to defending the United States or any of its armed forces. In fact, Japanese forces are prohibited from helping Washington in time of war — even if the war is in defense of Japan.

This goes back to the postwar U.S. Occupation of Japan and the creation of the Japanese constitution. Determined that Tokyo would never again pose a threat to its Asian neighbors or the United States, Occupation leader General Douglas MacArthur and his staff were sympathetic to Japanese pacifists’ proposal to include a no-war making article in the constitution, then being written with oversight by the Occupation authorities. This worked with the policies of then-Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who wanted to focus on rebuilding the Japanese economy — without the distraction of creating a major defense force.

So Japan’s constitution prohibits engagement in war. Despite using the term “mutual” to describe the U.S.-Japan agreement, there has never been anything mutual about it. It has always been a unilateral U.S. guarantee of Japan’s defense.

This has long suited the U.S. foreign policy leadership, both Democratic and Republican. Washington has preferred to direct a forward defense against possible threats instead of relying on possibly pesky allies. It uses Japan as its most important forward base — particularly for the Seventh Fleet, which patrols Asian and South Pacific waters. The U.S. security community has therefore largely supported Japan’s pacifist policies — while quietly urging that the constitutional interpretation be broadened to allow more support for U.S. and U.N. peacekeeping efforts.

This may have been the right policy for Washington to pursue when the U.S. economy made up about 50 percent of the global gross domestic product; when U.S. military dominance in the Asia-Pacific region was absolute, and when U.S. and Japanese interests more or less coincided. But that situation no longer prevails.

The U.S. economy is now roughly 22 percent of global GDP, on the way to perhaps 15 percent. Relative military power has also shifted. The Pentagon, for example, would not today sail two aircraft carriers into the Taiwan Straits between China and Taiwan as it did in 1995, at a time of tension between Taiwan and mainland China. Nor do U.S. and Japanese interests coincide to the same extent.

Consider, the unoccupied Senkaku Islands, administered by Japan but whose Japanese ownership is disputed by China. These barren rocks are of no strategic or economic value to the United States. Yet, Washington could find itself going to war with China over them because of the peculiarities of the Japanese constitution and the U.S.-Japan security relationship.

Abe’s moves are likely to be greeted with suspicion, even violent opposition, by many in Asia. Some in the United States may also resist it. This is partly because of the still-festering wounds of World War Two and political expedience in Asia. But it is also due to U.S. concerns about Abe’s past as a right-wing, somewhat anti-American politician.

These concerns, however, should not impede U.S. support for the prime minister’s proposals. Washington does not have to agree with everything Abe says in order to support him when he says something that makes sense.

There is a growing risk that Washington may be drawn into confrontation with Beijing as a result of parochial issues between China and some U.S. allies. Japan, by taking greater responsibility for its own defense and that of its allies, would be moving to decrease this risk of having to put more Americans in harm’s way.

Washington should not only support this — it should welcome it. Despite the inevitable howls from some Asian capitals.

(This article originally appeared in the June 2, 2014 edition of Reuters)


LA Times: Got intel, Uncle Sam? Share it with U.S. companies

By. Clyde Prestowitz

May 25, 2014 -- By charging five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. corporations on behalf of Chinese industry, the Obama administration claims it is taking a tough step to protect the intellectual property of American companies. In fact, the move isn't so much tough as toothless.

Given the massive U.S. snooping program revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the Justice Department took pains to explain why China's cyberespionage is bad but America's isn't. Its argument: The U.S. hacks only for national security purposes, whereas China is stealing trade and technology secrets at the behest of Chinese companies.

GE or Boeing or Intel cannot call up the NSA and ask it to obtain specific information, as it seems Chinese companies routinely do with their military and spy agency hackers. -  

"This is a tactic that the U.S. government categorically denounces," said Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. "We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies, or U.S. commercial sectors."

Many people might not take him at his word. But in my experience as a high-level Commerce Department official in the Reagan administration, it is true. GE or Boeing or Intel cannot call up the NSA and ask it to obtain specific information, as it seems Chinese companies routinely do with their military and spy agency hackers.

But so what? The administration is basing its argument on the assumption that it is morally or economically wrong for governments to help corporations obtain valuable industrial, technological and commercial information. The White House further assumes that this is a widely accepted point of view. But neither of those assumptions is necessarily valid.

It has become increasingly obvious that China and many other countries don't fully accept the American way of thinking. For one thing, many countries have state-owned or partially state-owned corporations.

Renault is partially owned by the government of France. Singapore Airlines is partially owned by the government of Singapore. Most of the largest oil companies are owned by governments. In China, this is writ large: State-owned enterprises generate half or more of the nation's GDP.

But not one of the above countries draws the stark line between government and business that the U.S. does. To be sure, they are all members of the World Trade Organization and other so-called free-trade pacts. But that doesn't deter them from assisting companies they consider vital to their national economies.

Political economists make a distinction between countries that are largely devoted to free-trade policies and those that are more devoted to mercantilist policies. In this taxonomy, the U.S. is a free-trader; it generally keeps markets open to imports and doesn't protect or promote key industries or companies. The problem for Washington is that, aside from Britain and a few others, the rest of the world accepts a degree of mercantilism, or a belief that it's good for governments to subsidize exports or support favored industries to speed up economic growth and secure technological advantage.

Many countries have found ways to implement mercantilist policies while avoiding censure under the rules of the WTO and other agreements. For example, Ireland provides generous investment subsidies to induce companies to move production there. Japan's recent currency deflation is seen by some as a deliberate move to boost its export industries. Washington has averted its eyes from the mercantilism of these and other allies for reasons of national security, alliance maintenance and theoretical economics.

Now, suddenly, in the case of Chinese hacking, Washington has drawn a line in the sand. It's not going to work. The Chinese government certainly isn't about to extradite five members of the People's Liberation Army to face trial in a U.S. court. No one charged will suffer any punishment beyond an inability to visit the United States, which they probably didn't plan to do anyway.

More important, Chinese Internet attacks won't diminish as a result of these charges. If the White House was serious about retaliating against China for its hacking and about truly protecting U.S. intellectual property, it would make a formal case to the WTO protesting China's policies that force U.S. and other foreign companies to transfer technology as a condition of entrance to the Chinese market. Then it would lock the Chinese corporate recipients of purloined data out of the U.S. market. That it has not done so means that this is a charge without a punishment.

The United States might do better to play the game everyone else is playing. I know from my own experience that U.S. intelligence agencies discover quite a lot of economically valuable information. It would be an easy step to start handing that information over. Even more powerful would be to focus some intelligence efforts on helping U.S. companies maintain their advantage.

The days when America could ignore the importance of using intelligence to keep the country economically competitive are rapidly coming to a close.

This article originally appeared in the May 25, 2014 edition of the LA Times.


The Financial Times: Obama’s Asian allies need to give something back

April 23, 2014

By Clyde Prestowitz

The president’s hosts should ask what they can do for America, writes Clyde Prestowitz

President Barack Obama will spend the next few days on an awkward mission to Asia. Essentially, he is going to try to tell the Koreans, Japanese, Filipinos and Malaysians that their lives and welfare are more precious to America than those of the Afghans, Ukrainians and Syrians to whose rescue America has recently declined to come. That may not be the truth.

The White House says the president will reassure our Asian allies that they are the country’s top foreign policy priority and that America will act as a protection against the power and influence of China. It says the US will further integrate its economy with those of Asia by concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with 11 North American and Asia-Pacific countries. This is in response to Asian leaders’ laments that they feel neglected by Washington and uncertain of its commitments to them.

At first glance, both the Asian complaints and the new American response seem logical and straightforward. In fact, they are totally backwards. Listening to the Asians, you would never know that the US Seventh Fleet has been stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, and tasked with patrolling the western Pacific for the past 69 years; or that there are 30,000 American troops stationed in South Korea and another 50,000 in Japan; or that the South Korean army is under US command in time of war; or that America is committed to the unilateral defence of Japan and South Korea under its mutual security treaties with them. That means America is committed to defend Japan and South Korea if they are attacked but those nations are not committed in any way to defend America if it is attacked.

So it appears the US is more lonely and neglected than any of its Asian allies. We need to ask what they do for America: why does Washington have these allies? Indeed, perhaps in light of the lack of a reciprocal defence commitment they would better be called protectorates. Nor are they even allies of one another. Japan and South Korea are constantly bickering and do not even exchange national security intelligence directly. Rather, they speak to each other through the offices of the US. The Philippines is weak and unable to provide much to America, except perhaps military bases that are not really needed; and Malaysia, while a friendly country, provides little of any strategic value.

Similarly, in the economic realm, the flow of benefits has been heavily in favour of the Asia-Pacific countries. Most of them have based their development on mercantilist export-led growth policies, using protectionism and currency manipulation to generate huge trade surpluses with the US.

The crucial question is: in response to what threat do these countries need reassurance of support? The obvious answer is China, against whose rising power the Asians want a counterweight. And indeed, the strategic “pivot” to Asia that Mr Obama proclaimed early in his first term is a response to this wish.

To read article in its entirety in The Financial Times, please click here.


Transcript of Press Call Between DeLauro, Ellison, Slaughter, and Prestowitz

Members of Congress and Experts - April 16, 2014 Press Call on President Obama’s Trip to Asia

Thank you very much, Congressman. Now I’d like to introduce Clyde Prestowitz. Clyde Prestowitz is very well known as one of our country’s lea ding experts on the intersection between geopolitics and economics. He had a long and some might say difficult experience as a U.S. trade negotiator in Japan and Korea and
China during the Reagan Administration. And as President of the Economic
Strategy Institute, hebrought that negotiator’s experience now to many books and professorships. Clyde, take it away.
Clyde Prestowitz:
Thank you for kindly inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be with the congresspersons. When the TPP was first raised as a possibility, I was among those consulted by the White House on what the objectives of the TPP should be. I asked the officials in charge at the time what the real objective of the U.S. was.
It’s important to understand that the history of the TPP actually began in Singapore. Singapore had been proposing a variety of free trade agreements in the South Pacific and Southwestern Pacific, and for a long time the U.S. ignored these, but then a couple of years ago the White House picked it up as a major objective. And so my question was “why?”
The answer was not that we’re going to create jobs for the United States, not that we’re going to stimulate the U.S. economy, but that we’re going to reassure our friends and allies in Asia that, quote, “we’re back." This was to be in response to a complaint that had arisen in Southeast Asia that we, America, had somehow gone away and had not been attending all the top conferences in Asia and so forth.
So the objective is really a geopolitical objective, not an economic objective. But because the mechanism to express this “we’re back” feeling is a trade agreement, it has to be presented and sold as something that’s going to create jobs in the U.S. and that’s going to benefit the U.S. economy.
So in my mind there are two questions. One is, will a TPP as we understand it at the moment actually be a plus for the US economy? And two, will it in any way affect our security position in the Pacific, in the world, and in some way strengthen that position? I think the answer to both questions is no.

East Asia Forum: Free trade agreements should happen for the right reason

April 10, 2014

Typically, countries pursue free trade agreements (FTA) with each other because they share common negotiating objectives and subscribe to broadly similar economic principles.

And based on those commonalities, they see benefit in deepening their trade and investment relationship by taking on a higher degree of mutual commitments within the context of an FTA or regional trade agreement (RTA).

Today, however, more and more countries in Southeast Asia appear to be pursuing or considering FTAs based on an entirely different set of considerations. Trade policy has become increasingly driven not so much by a full-hearted embrace of common principles or the objectives of the trade initiative at hand, but rather by a desire not to be left out or left behind as other ASEAN neighbours move forward with bilateral or regional FTAs.

Click here to continue reading article in its entirety.


LA Times: The all-too-real costs of free trade to average Americans

January 30, 2014


In his State of the Union message, President Obama suggested apprenticeships, tax reductions on new investments, and building new infrastructure as ways to increase jobs and reduce inequality in America.

But he said virtually nothing about what is probably the single biggest cause of lost jobs and stagnating earnings for all but the richest of America's citizens: the U.S. current account deficit, which includes the trade deficit.

Although the Federal Reserve Bank says we're in the midst of a recovery, and the official unemployment rate has fallen below 7%, the economy is far from being out of the woods. That official rate — technically known as U-3 — doesn't begin to tell the real story. It is only one of six unemployment measures kept by the U.S. government and counts all those who say they are unemployed and looking for work. But it does not include those discouraged unemployed workers who have given up looking for a job or those who would like to work full time but are only able to find part-time work. The rate that includes all those people — U-6 — is about 13%. Granted, that is below the 17% of 2010, but it is still far above the 8% of 2007, as we navigate what is being called a recovery — albeit an abnormally slow one.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the dramatic increase in the gap between the incomes of the wealthiest 5% of Americans and the rest. Virtually all of the benefit of the present "recovery" is going to those in the top income brackets. As far as the rest are concerned, it's still the Great Recession.

Please click here to read the article in its entirety.


AMERICAN REVIEW: A New American Century

American Review April 29, 2013 - Conventional wisdom says that America is in decline, that the American century is over, and that the future belongs to the rest, especially the rest in Asia. Dates vary, but predictions that China?s gross domestic product will soon surpass that of the US to become the world?s largest economy are legion. In 2011, the International Monetary Fund predicted it will happen in 2016.

More recently, The Economist put the date at 2019. Regardless of the exact time, prominent authors such as CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria (The Post American World) and Lee Kuan Yew School dean Kishore Mahbubani (The Great Convergence: see review page 66) have rushed to publish books predicting an historic shift in the global balance of power as a result of this change in relative share of global GDP. Indeed, the Australian government recently indicated its agreement with this thinking by moving to redeploy its resources and reorient its policies in response to a white paper on Australia in the Asian Century.

Click here to read the entire article at American Review 


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