The damage would be enormous.
The most important foreign economic policy decision of 2016 in the U.S. will be made after President Obama signs and submits the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement to Congress for approval this spring. Congress will then have no more than 60 legislative days in both the House and Senate to vote it up or down with no amendment. There are a lot of upsides to approval, and enormous costs to its rejection.
The TPP is the first 21st-century trade agreement in more than name, as it blazes new paths to creating opportunities for American commerce. It’s the first trade agreement to be designed for the new digital economy, and if implemented, small and medium-sized American businesses will have assured access to nearly half of the world’s economies for the first time. Even a one-person business that comes up with a new smartphone app—or any other product—will be able to serve markets abroad. For trade in goods, not only are taxes on trade cut around the Pacific Rim—in most cases sinking to zero (the negotiators point to 18,000 examples of this on all manufactured products and nearly all U.S. agricultural exports)—but conflicting regulations that needlessly impede trade will be also be reduced. Services in a wide variety of sectors will be able to cross borders more freely, and competition from state-owned enterprises will be made fairer