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Asia's Game of Thrones
Indonesia Hopes To Join the TPP

Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with President Barack Obama yesterday and announced that his country would seek to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The Associated Press:

“Indonesia intends to join the TPP,” Widodo said in the Oval Office, referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He provided no other details, but described the Indonesian economy as open.

Obama said Widodo was leading Indonesia in the “right direction.”

“We want to be a partner with you,” he said.

Indonesia had previously expressed interest in joining TPP but this is the strongest indication yet that it is serious about joining the pact, which the U.S. has negotiated with 11 other nations. Once the pact is ratified and takes effect — a process that could take a couple of years — it would cut tariffs and streamline trade rules among nations that account for 40 percent of global GDP.

Indonesia has extensive trade relations with China and has traditionally walked a fine line between Washington and Beijing, so its willingness to join the U.S.-brokered agreement is very important. Still, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman seemed uncertain about Indonesia’s prospects for joining the deal, noting that the country would have to remove many problematic investment barriers. Even so, Beijing cannot be thrilled that so many countries are looking to join the TPP.

During this period of heightened tensions, it’s easy to forget that America’s goal is a world order that the Chinese participate in, not a world order that’s rigged to stifle them. From the American perspective, China should aspire to join the TPP and recognize that it too benefits from free trade.

A final note: we hope Hillary Clinton in particular is paying attention. The deal she brokered and now disavows is already demonstrating its ability to strengthen a peaceful, trade-based world order.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    America trades trade disadvantages for more open markets in all these foreign trade agreements. Which means the American middle class takes it on the chin and suffers for everyone in these trade agreements. The American middle class deserves a major helping hand for all the damage they have taken to jobs and wages over the decades. In order to implement America’s strategy of the “American Global Trading System” which forces other cultures into contact and competition with the superior American culture, which in turn forces the glacially slow process of supplanting the local culture with American culture. “Cultures change at Glacial speeds”

    I think foreign countries purchase of US Treasuries to manipulate their currency and gain a price advantage for their exporters, presents an opportunity to reimburse the American middle class for all their sacrifices. Have the Fed payoff all foreign holdings of US Treasuries, about $6+ Trillion and put that with the Fed’s $2+ Trillion in reserves from all the recent “Quantitative Easing”. And create individual and inheritable Social Security accounts for every citizen of about $30,000. This would have the effect of increasing everyone’s net worth by $30,000, fixing the stupid Ponzi Scheme Social Security system, and putting about $9 Trillion in capital into the Stock and Bond markets. It would also devalue the Dollar on world markets for the first time in 4 decades, reversing the trade deficit into a trade surplus for the first time in many people’s lives. In addition, it would have the effect of kicking the economy out of its present destructive deflation, and back into a growing economy’s inflation. And finally it would make America’s export sector boom, which would suck foreign investment into America, while at the same time dragging the rest of the economy out of the ditch, creating jobs.

    • rheddles

      The American middle class benefits immensely from these agreements. A few individual Americans and their employers are devastated by them. We should offer them succor and assistance, but we should not let their self-interest reduce the greater good.

  • Jim__L

    China’s been helped by mercantilist policies. At some point, it’s true that their consumers would benefit from trade liberalization — but how much power do those consumers really have?

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