Are you down with TPP? While the Trans-Pacific Partnership has gained attention by becoming a talking point for presidential candidates, it’s sometimes hard to know what impact such an agreement would have here in North Texas. But it’s important that we try. The economy in North Texas is quickly becoming one with an international focus. And, with the real estate market so dependent on the local economy, it’s important for Realtors to understand the pros and cons of TPP and its potential impact on Texans. Learn about TPP and make your voice heard in November.
Whether or not you support increasing free trade, there is no disputing that the countries involved in TPP are already important to Texas’s exporters. The Department of Commerce notes that last year Texas exported nearly $140 billion in goods to Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam alone. In fact, 55 percent of Texas exports went to TPP countries, from nearly 20,000 companies. Most of these companies were small to medium sized businesses. These businesses would no doubt benefit from the elimination of foreign import taxes. The elimination of these taxes would reduce the cost to their buyers– by an estimated 25 to 59 percent in many cases.
Economists and business leaders point to these cost savings as having the potential for creating more jobs and faster, more economical trade. They also believe that the elimination of restrictions on trade could have big beneficial impacts on agriculture and in the service industry.
The controversy over TPP begins with a lot of unanswered questions. Because governments are eager to create more open trade, they are negotiating most of the partnership details out of the public eye. Activists opposed to eliminating trade barriers are concerned that a variety of protections currently in place will be eliminated. For instance, it is unknown whether the TPP will include labor standards based on current international conventions or how such standards will be enforced. Similar standards in place to protect the environment and public interest policies might also be impacted. Further, activists want assurances that access to affordable generic versions of medications will be protected. Agricultural experts want to know that farm workers are protected and that dumping of crops won’t force family farmers out of business.
Texas businesses stand to benefit greatly if the TPP is passed in some version. With our strong economy ready to do business with the world, it could be a great time to be a Texan. But with so many unanswered questions and concerns, no one can say for sure that this massive trade agreement would be a panacea to struggling global economy, or its greatest folly.
Hear from both sides of the TPP feud. For local interpretations of TPP’s impact on Texas, visit http://trade.gov/fta/tpp/states/texas.asp to see the government’s official stance, pr listen to the Texas Standard interview with Raymond Robertson, a professor of economics and government at the Bush School at Texas A&M. For a more general explanation, listen to What is TPP and why are both parties so angry about it? from PRI. Then decide for yourself.
And, don’t forget to vote in November.