Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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India should Consider Joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership

India should follow the lead of the United Kingdom and seriously consider joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Partnership was the 12-nation trading bloc that U.S. President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) pulled out of last year. The idea behind the TPP was to create a bloc of Asian and American countries to counter China. Currently, 11 nations; Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru, are participating in the Partnership.

Another large economy the United Kingdom is exploring the possibility of joining the TPP, The Guardian reported. The British Department of International Trade believes the Partnership can help the UK make up for trade lost after the Brexit pull-out from the European Union.

Strangely enough, Trump told NBC “I would do TPP if we made a much better deal than we had,” on 25 January 2018. “We had a horrible deal.” That is Donald doublespeak for “I was wrong about the TPP.” Trump is simply too arrogant to admit he was wrong, so he manufactures the fiction about a “better deal” to sell TPP to his followers.

A TPP with the United States would be a horrible deal for India – unless India joins. A TPP with India and the United States would work because India can serve as a counterweight to the USA.

Joining the TPP would give India Access to vast amounts of Resources

British membership would transform the TPP from a Pacific-focused organization to a global trading bloc.

It would also pave the way for other large economies like Brazil, the United States, and Saudi Arabia to enter the partnership. An obvious use of this trading bloc would be to counter China’s growing influence or a developing Chinese-American economic alliance.

Indian membership in the TPP would be a next logical step because it would give India access to all the economies in the Partnership. That includes one of the world’s top 10 oil producers – Canada.

It would also provide India access to some of the world’s largest producers of vital minerals. TPP member Chile is one of the world’s largest producers of copper, while Australia is a major source of both iron ore and coal.

The United States is the world’s second largest oil producer and a major source of coal, as well as the world’s premier creator of cutting-edge technologies. TPP membership might give India access to those markets as well.

If Britain were to join the TPP, membership in it would give India access to the financial markets in the City of London. Not to mention British markets for Indian products. US membership in the TPP might give India better access to Wall Street’s financial markets.

Historically-minded people will note this sounds a great deal like the British Empire trading bloc the UK tried to create before World War II. A key difference with the TPP is that India would be the dominant member because it would be the largest nation participating – if the USA stays out.

Britain would not be able to dominate the TPP the way it did the Empire because its’ military power is vastly reduced. Other TPP members might welcome India, as a counterweight to the UK and a replacement for lost American markets.

Membership in the TPP might be Vital to India’s Future

Membership in a global trading bloc like the TPP might be vital to India’s future because of the changing face of international commerce.

A danger to India and other countries would be the development of a Chinese-American trading bloc that would completely dominate international commerce. Such a bloc would be a great deal for American and Chinese companies, but bad for everybody else.

The sheer volume of their trade would put the USA and the People’s Republic would in a position to set the prices for a wide variety of goods and commodities. Since, the United States and China, are primarily manufacturing countries they would set the price for natural resources as low as possible to maximize their profits. This would doom nations dependent on natural resources exports to poverty.

There is an opportunity for India here as an alternative market for those natural resources and as an alternative source of manufactured goods. Participation in the TPP; or a similar organization, can help Indian industry by guaranteeing markets for products such as textiles, automobiles, and electronics.

It would also provide an alternative to a Beijing-Washington axis that will try to make the world into a playground for American and Chinese corporations. Such a trading bloc may not be Trump’s goal, but it seems to be Chinese President Xi Jinping’s end game. Forestalling, such an alliance must be a prime goal of Indian foreign policy.

Like the United Kingdom and the United States, India has a unique opportunity to develop new trade arrangements that can greatly enhance its economy. Hopefully, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take advantage of that opportunity.

A different version of this piece appeared at Empresa-Journal please visit it.