Should TPP Be Formed? On the Potential Economic, Governance, and Conflict-Reducing Impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries whose joint gross domestic products (GDPs) account for 36 percent of world GDP and whose mutual trade accounts for approximately 24 percent of world trade. As for most proposed free trade agreements (FTAs), trade economists have provided ex ante computable general equilibrium (CGE) estimates to predict the trade, employment, and real per capita income effects of this agreement, such as ITC (2016). This paper-intended to complement these studies-examines the potential impacts of TPP beyond such traditional CGE estimates, taking a broader economic, governance, and historical perspective. First, we contrast these traditional CGE trade and welfare estimates that treat all firms within an industry as homogeneous with more recent CGE analyses that allow firms' productivities to be heterogeneous. We show that the latter models' trade predictions are much more consistent with ex post empirical evidence of average trade effects of FTAs. Second, empirical evidence now strongly confirms the existence of FTA "contagion." We review this evidence and show that predictive models of the evolution of FTAs indicate that the TPP should be formed. With China now having formed 12 FTAs and negotiating five new ones (including a sixteen member Asia-Pacific FTA), the United States would likely face considerable trade diversion without the TPP. Third, we examine empirical evidence on the likely further economic growth implications of FTAs by reducing firms’ uncertainty over trade relations and trade policies. Fourth, we examine empirical evidence on the additional impact of FTAs on consolidating democratic institutions in countries. The TPP would likely help consolidate some of the less mature democracies. Fifth, we examine empirical evidence on the reductions of conflicts (and enhanced peace) between countries owing to the formations of FTAs. We conclude the paper noting that the potential net benefits to member countries of the proposed TPP extend well beyond the real income gains to households based upon traditional CGE models.
Volume (Year): 20 (2016)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
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