Is a trade agreement with China a good idea?

President Obama says China open to joining trade partnership, do you think it is a good idea?

“The truth is,” President Obama told Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal, “is that globalization, advances in technology, big cargo containers shipping goods in that are sold through the distribution and logistics networks in this country, over the last 20, 30 years, played a role in reducing the leverage that workers had, played a role in outsourcing, but the argument that I make to my friends, whose values I share, is that you can’t fight the last war. The truth is, today, if there is a company in the United States that wants to find low-wage labor – if that’s their business model, I think it’s a mistake, but if that’s their business model – they can do it now, under existing rules. NAFTA did not have labor protections or environmental protections that were enforceable; that was a side-letter.”

While negotiations continue with China, another major agreement the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being brokered between the U.S. and several eastern Asian countries that doesn’t include China.

“One of the most basic facts about the TPP is also the most important: It’s huge,” writes NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben. “Another way the TPP is gargantuan is tougher to quantify in a bar graph: its scope. It not only covers basic trade issues like tariffs, but also a variety of other areas like labor and environmental and intellectual property.”

How big of a deal is TPP?

One of the administration’s top arguments for the deal is that in negotiating TPP, it “writes the rules” for trade with a large swath of eastern Asian countries before China can with its own trade agreements.

Today’s Question: Is a trade agreement with China a good idea?

  • Max

    China is not in the TPP.

    • Correct, but TPP seems to be part of the reason China and the U.S. are talking now.

      • Gary F

        He’s desperate for deal, no matter how bad it is. What really has me puzzled is why the Republicans are playing along with this.

        • lindblomeagles

          Two reasons Gary: 1) Politicians, regardless of principles, are always ready to make deals the closer the country gets to an election year. 2) Republicans generally embrace free trade agreements, citing the need for American companies to stay competitive, blah, blah, blah. Only the more libertarian part of the Republican Party embraces isolationism . . . the Pat Buchanan’s of the world.

  • Gary F

    How would we know? Obama and the house and senate wont let anyone read it. No hearings, no floor debate, is this another Nancy Pelosi “we have to pass the bill to see what’s in the bill” bill? What don’t they want us to know?

  • Gary F
  • Jim G

    Yes, but…the priority goals of TPP or any trade agreement for the United States should be ensuring middle class and minimum wage growth. Our last trade deal, NAFTA , did not workout well for American workers in spite of the side agreements promising otherwise. This time any trade agreement must have enforceable labor rules that begin to remedy our 30-year middle class and minimum wage stagnation. China, the 800-pound gorilla that writes its own rules, does need to be engaged over trade, and I can understand Obama’s desire to use international trade agreements to reign in China’s powerful trade influence. However, this time around we must understand that if we do not have strong enforceable labor protections for all participant nations… everyone on this end of the trade teetertotter loses.

  • Pearly

    I’ll bet we get Grubered again

  • lindblomeagles

    So here’s what I believe President Obama is really saying: American logistics and supply chain companies ought to do quite well with this agreement, so if you’re an out of work American or you need a career change, you might want to apply to be a truck driver, train engineer, warehouse worker, or long shore man because most of the goods in this deal are coming – NOT GOING – to the United States. If you’re in any other industry, don’t expect a wage increase because you’re competing now with cheaper overseas labor, sponsored by the people who elected me President and all the members of Congress. If you don’t like this arrangement, focus your ire against American corporations, march on Congress and make lawmakers change, because they are calling the shots.

  • davehoug

    Walk into any hardware store and notice how many items are off-shored. The workers of the US have lost whole industries and resulting poverty has devastated our cities where factories used to be.

    • David P.

      The other big hit to blue collar jobs is robotics. Check out an auto-plant, for example. Where there used to be 1,000’s of workers on the assembly line, there are now dozens, with robotics doing most of the work.

      • Pearly


  • James

    I’m sort of impressed with how candid Obama was. I think he said “It was way better when the US dominated the global economy because we had great products and services that the world wanted. Now that we have competition everywhere, we need to totally engage in the race to the bottom.” So depressing and probably so true.
    Economist believe that free trade raises the standard of living for everyone. I’ve always suspected that it is generally true, but not for the country that started out as Number 1. But the free trade ship sailed 30 or 40 or 50 years ago, and there is no stopping it now. So we need to continue doubling down, like Obama said.

  • MNDoc

    Everyone is missing the point because this whole trade deal is not as the media reports..most of it is still secret. OBAMA has not been candid at all.
    Under fast-track, Congress transfers its authority to the executive and agrees to give up several of its most basic powers.

    The concessions include: the power to write legislation, the power
    to amend legislation, the power to fully consider legislation on the
    floor, the power to keep debate open until Senate cloture is invoked,
    and the constitutional requirement that treaties receive a two-thirds
    vote. The latter is especially important since, having been to the closed
    room to review the secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is
    clear it more closely resembles a treaty than a trade deal.

    Through fast-track, Congress would be pre-clearing a
    political and economic union before a word of that arrangement has been
    made available to a single private citizen.
    Reviewing the secret text, plus the secret guidance document that
    accompanies it, reveals that this new transnational commission –
    chartered with a ‘Living Agreement’ clause – would have the authority to
    amend the agreement after its adoption, to add new members, and to
    issue regulations impacting labor, immigration, environmental, and
    commercial policy.

    Senator Sessions wrote, “Under this new commission, the Sultan of Brunei would have an equal vote to that of the United States.”
    President Obama has ignored and rejected bipartisan calls for
    transparency on Obamatrade, and refuses to release to the public the
    text of TPP that TPA would fast-track. In fact, currently, only members
    of Congress—and certain cleared staffers with high enough security
    clearances, and those staffers can only go with a member—are allowed to
    go into a secret room in the U.S. Capitol to go read the text of
    Obamatrade’s TPP