Pulling Back From Global Trade Is a Bad Idea and Shouldn't Happen

The Financial Times last week offered a front-page reason for why the U.S. can't withdraw from its efforts toward globalization and trade liberalization: "Beijing Plans Rival Asia-Pacific Trade Deal After Trump Victory."

"Xi Jinping is rekindling efforts to promote a rival to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement in the wake of Donald Trump's election victory," the publication reported.

China was originally excluded from the TPP.

President Barack Obama wanted to challenge the global economic expansion of the Chinese and, in his so-called Asia pivot, intended to create a trading bloc that would challenge and slow down the Chinese efforts to spread its influence.

President-elect Trump and others seem to be intent upon reducing the role of the U.S. in the world and building economic protection for its industrial base.

Unfortunately, that isn't the way that the world is going.

As already noted, though globalization has slowed in recent years, it will continue one way or another.

There are several reasons, the primary is one connected to the spread of information, which history has shown can't be stopped. With the flow of information comes knowledge and then finance, trade and the movement of people.

The second thing to note is the efforts of the Chinese.

China has discovered a way to spread its influence throughout the world, one that isn't reliant upon the military. The country discovered 30 years ago or so that the spread of economic influence throughout the world brings influence and power.

It also discovered that it would have to play the game of capitalism to a certain extent to compete with the U.S. and others.

And, though China still has a lot to learn, it continues to improve its game.

Just getting the renminbi accepted by the International Monetary Fund as a reserve currency to be used alongside the dollar, euro, pound and yen has been a high point of the endurance and persistence of its efforts.

Trade has become another major tool of Chinese expansion.

The evidence of this effect of this effort was the Obama administration's Asia pivot and the TPP.

"The void" created by Trump's position "has offered Beijing an opportunity to argue for faster adoption of a broader Asia-Pacific free-trade area," The Financial Times reported.

"We are the only ones who are going to be left on the sidelines as others mover forward if TPP doesn't happen," said Michael Froman, U.S. trade representative, told The Financial Times.

This is the reality of the world today and the nature of globalization.

If the U.S. turns inward and narrows its focus, others, specifically China, will move in and fill the void.

Not withdrawing is an even more important issue if the U.S. intends to continue its role militarily in the world. Having contacts beyond just government leaders and having a presence in more than just military bases makes the whole effort work better.

This is what China is finding, and it is something that the U.S. can't ignore.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. 

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