An important new study finds that the overall benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership outweigh the negatives. A careful reading shows some important cautions.

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It will come as no surprise that the impeccably establishment Peterson Institute for International Economics gives a passing grade to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has been negotiated between 12 nations including the United States.

U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman said in a prepared statement, “This independent analysis shows that TPP will raise wages for American workers, grow our economy, and help farmers and businesses export more ‘Made in America’ products. It offers clear evidence that TPP is an answer to challenges on how middle class workers will compete at home and how our nation’s economy will compete abroad. Importantly, it also shows that sitting on the sideline and delaying TPP, even for a short time, will cost us dearly.”

Few minds will be changed. The study, by Peter Petri of Brandeis and Michael Plummer of Johns Hopkins, indicates the TPP would increase overall trade and its dislocations to the domestic economy would be outweighed by its benefits.

Importantly, however, the economists said the agreement would slow manufacturing jobs growth in the United States. This has been a key contention of critics. Manufacturing provides better wages than most service jobs and has already been savaged by years of offshoring, while further automation is a headwind for the future.

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About 121,000 fewer factory jobs would be created by 2030 because of TPP. Of all workers, only 0.2 percent of U.S. jobs would face dislocation by TPP. A small percentage overall, to be sure, but not if you’re on the outside looking in. Most dislocated workers would find new positions (unless you are older, for example), although these may not pay as much as manufacturing.

The report is also honest about not portraying TPP as a “free trade” agreement. They write, “Despite the nearly complete elimination of tariffs, tariff liberalization accounts for only 12 percent of the benefits of all TPP members, and an even smaller share for the United States.”

Real incomes in the United States are projected to increase by $131 billion in 2030 thanks to TPP. This one flummoxed me considering real household income in November totaled more than $14.2 trillion — every household from Bill and Melinda Gates to the people behind the fast-food counters. So…at least TPP isn’t costing income.

Also, “TPP has developed comprehensive rules for economic integration in areas of commerce that have raced far ahead of the WTO rulebook, including services, investment, telecommunications, the digital economy, and other critical industries. If the TPP is ratified and implemented smoothly, these rules will renew progress—now stalled for more than two decades—in strengthening the world trading system.”

As I have written before, Washington state would be a net winner under TPP because of its already strong exporting position. Still, the agreement faces opposition from Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Republican support in Congress, essential for its passage, has cooled.

You can read the entire report here.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Tyco and Johnson

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