A number of former trade officials from countries party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership warned on Wednesday (June 15) that anti-trade sentiment in the United States and other countries is qualitatively different than movements against trade in the past and could threaten U.S. leadership on the issue in the 21st century.
[Daily News| June 16, 2016 |Inside US Trade]
“What many Americans will tell you is things are different now, that we’ve seen anti-trade sentiment before, trade agreements have been difficult to get through our Congress, but there’s something going on now that’s new and this country will have to deal with,” former Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler said at an event on Asian economic integration hosted by the Asia Society. “Free trade agreements unfortunately have become kind of the boogeyman of our presidential campaign,” she said.
Former Japanese and Australian officials argued that backlash against free trade has shifted in a fundamental and notable way from specific groups protesting particular issues to a broader movement against the general idea of free trade.
“It seems to me the depth of the concern is greater than before,” said Peter Gray, former Ambassador of Australia to the World Trade Organization and former Chief Trade Negotiator and Deputy Secretary of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Previously, he said, “they were more sort of individual based concerns instead of systemic trade concerns.”