[Ip-health] Joe Biden in the Financial Times: We cannot afford to stand on the sidelines of trade

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Feb 28 10:28:50 PST 2014


February 27, 2014 6:22 pm
We cannot afford to stand on the sidelines of trade

By Joe Biden

America should seize the chance to spread our values and benefit our
people, writes Joe Biden

The US is currently negotiating major trade agreements across the Atlantic
and Pacific. Both deals are historic in scope, offering us a chance to
shape the global economy in ways that strengthen US leadership in the world
and the American middle class at home.

Many in Congress and in my own party view new trade agreements
are reluctant to offer their support. I understand the pressures these
lawmakers face.

But I am convinced that the two deals we are negotiating are in America's
best interest, and that politicians will ultimately be rewarded for making
them happen. That is why President Barack Obama and I are committed to
seeing them through.

The global economy <http://www.ft.com/global-economy> is at an inflection
point. The choices we make now will determine our role in the world for
decades to come. We have an opportunity to shape the path of global
commerce to spread our values and benefit our people, and we should seize

The US has been the world's pre-eminent economic power for many years and
will remain so for the foreseeable future. But the rise of new economic
powers means we will face fierce competition from more places than ever

America's economic relations with the rest of the world matter more now
than ever before. Countries that throw up protectionist barriers and
distort their economies to favour state-owned enterprises are challenging
rules of the road that we have relied on for decades. The question is
whether the US will take a leadership role in shaping a new course that
reflects American values - or whether we will stand on the sidelines as a
new order unfolds.

The two agreements now in the works would place the US at the centre of two
vast trading regions. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would connect America
to economies as diverse as Japan, Malaysia and Chile. The Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership would significantly deepen what is already
a multitrillion-dollar economic relationship with the EU. Together they
would unite nearly two-thirds of the world economy in support of open and
fair economic competition.

Both of the deals will increase US exports and help attract good
middle-class jobs to America. When 95 per cent of the world's customers
live beyond our borders, exports are critical. Outside studies have found
that the TPP and TTIP would each increase exports by more than $120bn a

Some 44m Americans work for companies that export goods. Jobs supported by
exports pay as much as 18 per cent higher than the national average.

After decades when our economy grew but the middle class took a beating,
Americans are understandably worried about rising inequality at home. The
president and I are determined to address this. So the deals we are
negotiating are different from those our country has signed before,
reflecting the lessons of two decades of globalisation. They include
unprecedented steps to protect labour standards, the environment and
intellectual property, as well as new commitments against favouritism for
state-owned enterprises. They require nations that might otherwise try to
undercut us to match our high standards instead.

Our exports still face barriers in many countries. These agreements must
level the playing field. America has less than a 1 per cent share of
Japan's automobile market. As I have said directly to Japan's leaders, we
must address barriers to American car exports if we hope to move forward.

But the benefits are not just economic. As America reasserts its role as a
Pacific power, many in the region are asking whether we are there to stay.
Deploying soldiers and diplomats is essential. But as other nations use
their economic might to compete for influence and even coerce smaller
neighbours, there is no substitute for robust American economic engagement
- on behalf of our own companies and in defence of open commerce and fair
competition. The TPP has become a symbol of American staying power. We must
see it through. Our European allies are already our security partners of
first resort, from Libya to Afghanistan. TTIP will spur growth that helps
both sides of the Atlantic continue to modernise and invest in the most
powerful alliance in history.

When a president receives support and guidance from Congress, that
strengthens America's hand at the negotiating table. That is why the
president and I have asked Congress to grant us trade promotion authority.
This means that Congress outlines US objectives in detail and sets the
terms for close consultation. Congress gets the final say when it puts the
resulting agreements to a simple vote.

I realise trade can be a contentious issue. Having run for office a few
times myself, I do my best never to tell another man or woman his or her
politics. But I also believe that good policy makes good politics. And
trade that strengthens America's middle class is both.

*The writer is the vice-president of the United States*

More information about the Ip-health mailing list