As FedEx CEO Fred Smith met with President-elect Donald Trump on November 17th, FedEx joined other logistics companies in calling for Trump’s commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the world’s largest free trade agreement.
While the nature of Smith’s meeting with Trump is unknown, FedEx is a strong advocate of free trade and the TPP. “Trade agreements are the solution, not the problem,” said Michael Ducker, CEO of FedEx Freight, stating that FedEx was “100 percent committed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
The TPP involves 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, Mexico, Australia and Japan, and excluding China. Its ostensible purpose is to promote free trade, job growth and openness by lowering trade barriers and restrictions. According to Ducker, “This country needs TPP. Our customers will benefit from TPP. TPP will eliminate tens of thousands of foreign tariffs added onto American-made products.”
Donald Trump, however, has vowed to withdraw the US from the TPP on the basis that policies of anti-globalisation and protectionism will bring jobs and manufacturing back to the US, blaming the decline in domestic manufacturing on “a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.”
Outside of Trump’s campaign rhetoric, the TPP has also received criticism for the “anti-democratic” secrecy of its negotiations, and for what is perceived to be its promotion of corporate interests over environmental, safety and labour laws.
Though the 12 participating countries have supposedly agreed to fairer labour practises and transparency, opponents argue that US multinationals and corporate lobbyists have had undue influence over the agreement, littering it with one-sided provisions—including the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause, which would allow private corporations to seek arbitration against laws and regulations that negatively impact their profits.
Trump, who has claimed that he will sign a note of intent to leave the TPP on his very first day in office, has faced some backlash from Republican supporters of the TPP, who view this as capitulation to China. After declining to join the TPP, China proposed its own rival deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the US.
Trump has previously accused China of “cheating” in its international dealings, and threatened to put a 45% tariff on Chinese imports.