U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal has been described as "unfortunate" by Fred Smith, FedEx chairman, president and CEO.
In an interview with Fox Business Network, Smith described the TPP as "an essential part of our economy. I think the decision to pull out of TPP is unfortunate because the real beneficiary of
that is China. And China has been very mercantilist, very protectionist," Smith said.
"We need to try to stop those things and get the Chinese to open up their 1.3 billion-person market, not cut them off. We have the opportunity to sell huge amounts of goods into China." He added that "the United States being cut off from trade would be like trying to breathe without oxygen."
Out of date position
In a statement released after Trump signed the executive order, the Memphis-based shipping giant said it supports agreements, whether bilateral or multilateral, that reduce trade barriers and create opportunities for its customers.
“The Asia-Pacific is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world and holds immense promise for U.S. exporters and their employees here in the United States. FedEx supports efforts to engage the Asia-Pacific region, including bilateral trade agreements, which help ensure that our customers have access to those critical markets.”
Smith, who met with Trump in New York following his November election victory, urged the new president to reconsider his position toward the Asian powerhouse despite China's historic protectionism. "To some degree, the administration's positions are a little bit out of date with reality of China today. They want to open their markets today," he noted.
TPP withdrawal is a troubling signal, John McCain
Smith argued that some 40 million Americans have jobs as a result of trade, whose benefits are more "diffuse" and harder to see than the "pain" in areas like manufacturing. He pointed out that more than 27% of U.S. economic activity is directly related to trade, 95% of global consumers are outside of the country and 80% of the purchasing power is found across the border.
Echoing Smith's comments, Republican Senator John McCain said the decision to withdraw from TPP "will harm American workers" and it "will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers."
McCain also stated that the move "will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it."
The TPP was signed in February 2016 but has remained unratified by the United States and most other signatories.
Nol van Fenema
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