DONALD TRUMP AND HIS ALTERNATIVE FACTS ON THE REJECTED TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP
While I am sure President Donald Trump knows how to add using his fingers, I wish he had used bigger fingers before maligning the junior trading nations with the US like New Zealand.
According to our New Zealand Statistics figures for 2016 we sent NZ $5.6 billion worth of exports to the US and in return received NZ $5.7 billion worth of Goods and Services from the US. In the Brave New World according to Donald Trump he claims this means that New Zealand gained far more from this trading relationship than did the US! ? In response, small minded journalists might suspect that (using Trump’s own invented language) he might have “misspoke bigly”. At the very least, his assertion that smaller partners have been gaining more from trade with the US than does the US doesn’t match the New Zealand example. Assuming Trump gets his way and achieves a one on one trade agreement with partners like New Zealand, I am puzzled in our particular case why he assumes a new future agreement whereby the US gains more at our expense would have us wanting to trade under such conditions. To take one example, I happen to know that our national airline Air New Zealand is currently buying fewer planes from Boeing and more from Airbus. If President Trump were to succeed in making our buying from Boeing even less favourable, why on earth would we move more to Boeing while taking fewer planes from the EU Airbus conglomerate?
The other curious aspect of the new President’s action in closing down TPP is that for some reason he was either denied the information generated by President Obama’s economic advisors – or more likely, simply couldn’t be bothered asking. From the previous White House point of view the TPP was partly designed to help the large and growing poorer sector of the population. Landing goods more cheaply in the US may not initially directly benefit the captains of US industry but it sure helps those US consumers who are struggling to make ends meet. Landing goods after tariffs??? In any case I would have thought extending the US range of target nations for US manufactured goods would have provided at least a few extra jobs.
The other key aspect of the TPP was that by helping the junior trading partners the TPP was supposed to supply what President Obama called the “Asian Pivot”. In other words by assisting the trading partners develop their own economies it means the US could guarantee future stronger trading partners who would support the US. We can already see Fiji turning to China because China offers more trade assistance to Fiji. Friendship has to be a two way affair.
I am assured by the few New Zealand producers I happen to know, that without the current trade barriers with the US we would have been able to purchase more from the US and sell the US more of our goods. My reason for suspecting this is plausible is that China with a much more relaxed approach to trading with New Zealand has now displaced the US as our second biggest trading partner. New Zealand’s trade relationship with China has nearly tripled over the past decade, with two-way trade rising from $8.2 billion in the year ended June 2007 to $23 billion in the June 2016 year.
That Donald Trump is intentionally or more probably unintentionally set on making China great again by encouraging them back into the partnership with the other 11 prospective TPP nations may seem a mystery but would at least allow us to set up a further trading relationship option where we would not suffer the prospective indignity of being punished after thirty days for not signing up to a lopsided relationship designed to make the US rich at our expense. This of course is partly guesswork because the future arrangements of the TPP partners are still at the reorganization stage. However the TTP is not the only game in town.
The Chinese, earlier sidelined from the TPP, have been developing their own free Trade network alternative and according to the Wall Street Journal are now well advanced in their plans to establish favourable trading for potential partners under what they are calling the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (The RCEP). Since Trump’s election, China has been aggressively moving ahead with the RCEP, and the Wall Street Journal has been reporting that several TPP signatories have been “shifting their focus” to RCEP.
A few days into the “Make America Great Again” campaign and our nation is being forced to find a more positive form of greatness in other main trading partners. Is this really what the Trump supporters had in mind?