Washington — Neither candidate for president supports the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, but surrogates for both can't seem to stop pointing out why the other is wrong-headed in their opposition.
But at stake for the plastics industry is tariff relief in literally hundreds of ways.
“TPP is not part of what a progressive economic agenda looks like,” said Gene Sperling, Hilary Clinton's economic advisor and former director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy in the Obama White House. Though Clinton, as part of President Barack Obama's team, was “hopeful” TPP trade pact would be a good deal for U.S. workers, manufacturing clauses and other parts of the finished 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement “just did not meet her standards.”
But Clinton is not supporting “the Trump tariff plan,” either, to "magically make imports go away,” Sperling said at the non-partisan National Association for Business Economics Presidential Economic Advisers Debate Oct. 13 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“She is going to be tough on China, but no, she's not going to impose heavy, illegal tariffs that would make it harder for U.S workers to export their goods,” he said.
Stephen Moore, senior economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former economy and public policy writer for The Wall Street Journal and now with the Heritage Foundation, said while he and his candidate don't agree 100 percent on all things economic, they do “fully agree that it's trade that's destroying our jobs.
“I believe with President Trump we will see someone who is a fiercer negotiator,” Moore said of future trade agreements should the Republican win the presidency Nov. 8.
Trump has been on the warpath against TPP and other existing trade agreements throughout his candidacy, calling the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement “the single worst trade deal ever approved.”
"We have to renegotiate our trade deals and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs,” Trump has said, referring to China and Mexico.
But many U.S. industries — including plastics — support TPP and a recent NABE survey by the nonpartisan group shows 47 percent of business economists believe the deal as it stands now would create more winners than losers.
Plastics industry trade group the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. had hoped Congress would take up TPP in a lame duck session after the election, but GOP leaders in both chambers seem to have ruled out the possibility of a vote, over Obama Administration objections.
“TPP has taken several years to congeal and it's good for us,” said Jon Kurrle, SPI's executive vice president for advocacy. “There are about 385 tariff lines that speak to the breadth of the plastics industry, when you break out all of the products.”
In addition to consumer goods and finished plastics products, TPP could boost sales revenue for U.S. equipment makers and recycling