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Now that Washington’s big fight over the fast track bill is over, the national media will surely return to its norm of almost completely ignoring trade policy until a new trade deal like a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) comes before Congress. The only likely exceptions will be the extent that trade comes up in the intensifying presidential campaign.

This neglect is even more of a shame than usual, and not just because America’s relentlessly growing trade deficits keep slowing its already slow-enough semblance of a recovery. It’s a shame because the main justifications for the TPP keeping falling apart – most recently with the release of a new survey of international opinion from the Pew Research Center.

As will be recalled by those whose memories exceed the short term, a major set of arguments for concluding the TPP pretty much as it stands sprung from geopolitics. One especially prominent claim was that the agreement was vital for maintaining and strengthening America’s preeminence in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.

No one should be surprised that President Obama himself insists that the fast track legislation that will ease TPP’s journey through Congress “will reinforce America’s leadership role in the world -– in Asia, and in Europe, and beyond.” (The wisdom of a national leader suggesting that his country’s position needs strengthening is another subject entirely.) Somewhat more surprising is how completely the national chattering class accepted this view. Thus even someone as remote from trade (and foreign policy) issues as senior CNN politics reporter Stephen Collinson felt comfortable presenting as a fact, “Had the fast-track provision crashed,” the TPP would have died, likely taking U.S. credibility in Asia and Obama’s pivot to the region with it.”

As I have repeatedly pointed out, such assertions are (take your pick) moronic or deceptive on their face. Examining America’s role as the leading final consumption market for export-dependent Asia, and its role as the only conceivable source of protection against a rising China, makes its centrality beyond legitimate dispute. But since doubters will always remain – and especially self-interested ones – it’s great that Pew has just made clear that the populations of the Asia-Pacific region itself clearly understand America’s importance economically.

Pew asked publics in several first-round TPP countries (and many other countries) to “name the world’s leading economic power” and gave them the choice of the United States, China, the European Union, Japan, or “Other/None/Don’t Know.” Although there was some country-by-country variation, the Asia-Pacific region was the one that most often awarded the United States the top spot – with solid majorities.

Specifically, respondents in Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam considered the United States to be Number One by majorities of 59 percent, 53 percent, and 50 percent, respectively. The share of their populations that believed China had gained the lead? Twenty-three, 33, and 14 percent, respectively. Only one TPP first-round country placed China atop the world economy – Australia, by a whopping 57 percent to 31 percent over the United States. These results indicate that Australians know that their economy has relied heavily on exporting raw materials to China – but also that Australians need to learn about where much of China’s own growth comes from.

Indeed, the Chinese are apparently well-positioned to instruct the Aussies. They named the United States as the world’s leading economy over their country by 44 percent to 34 percent.

In fairness, another Pew survey reveals some evidence of America’s perceived top dog status slipping between 2014 and 2015. At the same time, this decline could have resulted from several months of Mr. Obama and other American leaders warning about China’s rise and thereby implicitly poor-mouthing their own country.

In fact, the only main TPP-related question surrounding the Pew results concerns timing: Why did the Center wait to release them four days after fast track’s final passage by the House?

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