Could the Trans-Pacific Partnership Be a Key to Renewing America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit?

TPP. Trans Pacific Partnership trading association
TPP. Trans Pacific Partnership trading association

The 2016 presidential election is at long last over and change is coming to Washington. The new Trump administration is promising to bring jobs back to America and untangle the complex web of regulations the president-elect says is strangling U.S. businesses.

One of Donald Trump’s ideas on bringing jobs back from overseas is killing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now before Congress for ratification. The TPP is a trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries spanning four continents, including the United States and Canada. The agreement, signed in February 2016, contains measures proponents say will lower barriers to international trade.

The TPP had been supported heavily by the Obama. However, with the election of Trump, an opponent of TPP, President Obama has said he will not pursue ratification in the Congressional lame duck session.

So, if Obama will not pursue ratification in his final days and Trump is against the treaty, it would seem the TPP is in the morgue awaiting burial, right? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

One notable business leader says, despite Trump’s opposition to the treaty, America needs the TPP and promoted it as being a way to bring back America’s lagging entrepreneurial spirit.

FedEx Freight president and American Trucking Association treasurer Michael Ducker told a recent logistics conference in Memphis that the TPP represents an opportunity to bring businesses and manufacturing back to America. If the treaty were combined with regulatory reform and tax law changes, then entrepreneurs could start new businesses free of the current red tape that hampers their growth.

The TPP would eliminate nearly 20,000 foreign tariffs that make American-made goods more expensive overseas. Ducker’s idea is that with a more favorable tax and regulatory environment in the U.S. and a more competitive foreign market, American companies will expand the U.S. operations and hire more workers here to manufacture instead of shipping jobs overseas.

“Expanding trade opportunities for Americans has been a bipartisan pursuit since this country started,” Ducker told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “It needs to continue to be so as this new president and Congress are seated. And the time to act is now.”

As mentioned above, prospects for immediate ratification appear slim to none. President Obama will not pursue any action before he leaves office Jan. 20 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has ruled out any vote during the lame duck session. And, of course, the incoming president has actively campaigned against the TPP.

However, Trump has promised to be a different kind of president, less driven by ideology than his predecessors. Already in the first days after the election, he has altered his position on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). On the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted to repeal the entire law and start over. Now he has said certain parts of Obamacare may be included in a new healthcare act he wants Congress to craft. Perhaps he may prove as pragmatic on the Trans-Pacific Partnership? If he does, how far will he go in implementing regulatory and tax reform in order to make it easier to start and grow a business in America? The answers will have to wait until after Jan. 20, 2017.

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