A Potential Epic Geostrategic Blunder

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As Brexit-induced uncertainty continues to roil international markets, the U.S. Congress may soon deliver a second punch to the gut of the global economy. Congressional failure to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement this year would foreclose the only realistic option for meaningful global trade liberalization for years to come and would be interpreted as an unequivocal rejection of the long-standing presumption of U.S. economic leadership. This would reinforce perceptions – much to the delight of Moscow and Beijing – that post-WWII economic doctrine and its institutional pillars are crumbling. Although it may be difficult to infer from the nonchalance at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the stakes and implications are significant.

On its face, the TPP is a comprehensive trade and investment agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific-Rim nations, which reduces tariffs and other impediments to trade, blazes new trails for tackling protectionism that lurks behind borders in discriminatory domestic regulations and policies, establishes rules for curbing the market-distorting practices of state-owned enterprises, sets good precedents for keeping international electronic commerce safe from protectionist impulses, and positions U.S. businesses, workers, consumers, and investors to benefits from the region’s growth.

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