Should Free Traders Support the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Policy Forum
June 30, 2016
9:00AM to 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative, Office of the United States Trade Representative; Ambassador Clayton Yeutter, Former United States Trade Representative, Office of the United States Trade Representative; Daniel Ikenson, Director, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst, Cato Institute; Philip Levy, Senior Fellow on the Global Economy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Daniel Pearson, Senior Fellow in Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Derek Scissors, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Geir Ulle, Director of International Trade, JT International; K. William Watson, Trade Policy Analyst, Cato Institute.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement reached last year between the United States and 11 other Pacific-Rim nations. The deal was signed earlier this year, but congressional ratification faces substantive and political obstacles in 2016-and possibly well beyond.

Like all U.S. free-trade agreements, the TPP is not free trade, but managed trade. It achieves reductions in many trade barriers, while creating and prolonging other forms of protectionism. Does that mean free traders should oppose them? After all, past agreements have reduced domestic impediments to trade, expanded our economic freedoms, and locked in positive reforms, even if only as the residual byproduct of an ill-premised mercantilist process. Ultimately, free trade agreements have delivered freer trade.

If the agreement as written delivers more liberalization than protectionism and can be considered “net liberalizing,” then it is credible to argue that free traders should support ratification of the TPP. Whether they do, then, depends on their capacity to not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

At this policy event, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will present his case for the TPP, which will be followed by a panel discussion of the Cato Institute’s TPP assessment and a second panel discussion of the substantive and political obstacles to ratification.


9:00 - 9:40AM Keynote Address

Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative, Office of the United States Trade Representative


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9:40 - 10:40AM Panel 1: Grading the TPP: What’s to Like and Not to Like about the Agreement?

Moderated by Daniel Ikenson, Director, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute
Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst, Cato Institute
Derek Scissors, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
K. William Watson, Trade Policy Analyst, Cato Institute


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10:40 - 11:00AM Break
11:00AM - Noon Panel 2: Obstacles to Ratification: If Not Now, Then When?

Moderated by Daniel Pearson, Senior Fellow in Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute
Philip Levy, Senior Fellow on the Global Economy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Geir Ulle, Director of International Trade, JT International
Ambassador Clayton Yeutter, Former United States Trade Representative, Office of the United States Trade Representative


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