COVID-19 is exposing what many of us have known for a long time: our fealty to efficiency has left us dependent on a hostile authoritarian power for the supply of essentials, like medicines and medical equipment.
TPP has been marketed for years as the antidote to the Chinese Communist Party’s mercantilist view of the world and a way of having like-minded countries write the “rules of the road” so China doesn’t. Japan is recruiting new TPP partners as it spends $2 billion to diversify supply chains away from China. But TPP, as currently drafted, cannot address the China problem.
Below are four changes to the agreement that would back up the argument that TPP does something about the China problem:
- Tighten supply chain rules to make sure China is not a de facto beneficiary;
- Strengthen the rules against anticompetitive behavior, whether by governments or private actors;
- Strengthen the sustainability rules to mitigate the incentives to suppress labor and environmental rules; and
- Execute the data flow provisions to protect against having all the data end up in the hands of the CCP.
To be clear, there is a much deeper problem with the way these agreements are structured, which is to produce returns to capital, with little regard for other stakeholders. However, for the narrow purpose of using TPP to address the corrosive effects of state capitalism, these changes are the minimum necessary to begin to deliver on the pledge to do something about China.
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April 13, 2020