U.S. trade chief visits Stanford

Photo of Michael Froman speaking at a lectern that has an FSI placard.
Michael Froman (Photo credit: Rod Searcey )

Globalization has lifted more than a billion people out of extreme poverty, but as inequality and barriers to trade remain worldwide, improved trade standards are needed, America’s top trade official told a Stanford audience earlier this month.

Those improvements come in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, said U.S. Trade Representative MICHAEL FROMAN. The Obama administration’s point man encouraged acceptance of the multilateral trade agreement, known as the TPP, in a speech given at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. A video of the event is posted on the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center’s website.

The United States recently joined with 11 other nations to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Before the deal can take effect, Congress must vote on it.

As Froman explained, the TPP seeks to liberalize trade and investment between 12 Pacific Rim countries. Signed earlier this month, the document now faces the path to ratification through its members.

“In today’s rapidly globalizing world, the alternative to the TPP is not the status quo,” Froman told about 100 audience members at Stanford’s Bechtel Conference Center.

He cited efforts by various countries to build up alternative frameworks that promote free trade, but he said they miss some components of stability and longevity that the TPP offers. He cited as examples China’s “one belt, one road” initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

“Smart trade agreements like the TPP are how we shape globalization the right way,” said Froman, urging U.S. leadership on the matter.

PRESIDENT OBAMA has been a strong advocate of the agreement, in line with the administration’s “rebalance to Asia” strategy. Successful passage of the TPP will reassure allies in the region of American staying power, Froman added.