Why does the NYT find it so hard to separate its news reporting from opinion when it comes to trade deals? Yet again, we are told that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) can be "legacy making" for President Obama. After all it is:
"drawing together countries representing two-fifths of the global economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia, into a web of common rules governing trans-Pacific commerce. It is the capstone both of his economic agenda to expand exports and of his foreign policy 'rebalance' toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa."
Sounds really exciting right? Well the vast majority of the "two-fifths of the global economy" is accounted for by the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Australia, countries that were already drawn together in trade deals. For these countries the TPP will have little impact on trade. The only countries in the deal that really qualify as "fast-growing eastern Asia" would be Malaysia and Vietnam.
As a practical matter, the stronger patent and copyright protections in the pact may do more to impede trade than the tariff reductions do to promote trade, making its status as a "free-trade" agreement questionable. (To its credit, the NYT piece did not use this term.) It would be useful if the paper focused more on the facts and less on the celebration.