US return to Pacific trade deal makes more sense than ever

US return to Pacific trade deal makes more sense than ever

In mid-September, Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary for the United Kingdom, met with the 11 members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, to discuss potential British accession.

London characterized the meeting as “a major step in the process of joining” the regional trade deal, and the U.K. now seems on track to become the first country to do so. Could the U.S. follow suit under a Joe Biden administration or a second Donald Trump term?

If the U.S. were to seek to rejoin the trade deal, it would admittedly be a stunning reversal. After all, in 2016 both presidential candidates criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the deal’s predecessor. President Trump went further as soon as he took office by withdrawing the U.S. from the TPP, contending that bilateral trade deals were the way to go. Yet, the case for the U.S. participation is more compelling than ever.

Joining the CPTPP would be a sure way to deepen strategic and economic ties to Asia, a region that has become the engine for global growth, and that is projected to account for 50% of the global economy by 2040. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated that trend as East Asia is already bouncing back from the resulting economic slump faster than the rest of the world.