Despite Donald Trump withdrawing from the TPP via executive order, Malcolm Turnbull has desperately attempted to salvage the trade deal. At one point, Turnbull even proposed that China could join the TPP, before Japan slapped down this foolish suggestion.
In arguing for a revised TPP, Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly justified these attempts with claims that a free trade deal with the Asia- Pacific region, would result in further ‘jobs’ and ‘growth’.
While I trust our Prime Minister is well- intentioned, his approach to the issue of trade is misguided.
Of course, enhanced jobs and investment is a good thing. But as trade forms a key cog in Australia’s foreign policy, economics should not be the only consideration.
Trade is also about our relations with other countries, which new deals affect in different ways.
So aside from hypothetical economic benefits, what other considerations should Turnbull ponder on trade?
As I’ve discussed previously, the issue of increasing economic reliance on China must be addressed.
While I can’t be certain as of yet that China intends on provoking military conflict throughout the region, carelessly furthering our trade relationship with a communist, arguably unstable nation without thinking first of broader consequences, is irresponsible.
As leader of Australia, byproduct implications of trade deals that might be harmful to our long term national interest, should be consistently reviewed.
Our nation, our people, and our sovereignty, must be assessed in criteria that extend far beyond economic strength.
This problem of obsessing over economic matters, was once reflected by Jack Donovan, who wrote:
It’s tragic to think that heroic man’s great destiny is to become economic man, that men will be reduced to craven creatures who crawl across the globe competing for money, who spend their nights dreaming up new ways to swindle each other. That’s the path we’re on now.
In the era of Trump’s ‘America First’ strategy winning the White House, perhaps us Australians could do worse than follow suit on trade.