Michael Froman sounds bullish about the American economy. Of course, that's part of his public job description—as the U.S. Trade Representative, he’s responsible for negotiating trade standards with other countries and making sure that American companies can compete in the global economy. But at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday, he argued that the United States is in a strong position to set trading standards for a variety of still-closed economies, even including China.
“The U.S is among the most open economies for trade and investment in the world,” he said. “Our tariff rates are very low, at 3.5 percent, when a lot of the emerging economies have much higher rates than that.”
Froman emphasized the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an effort to formalize trade relationships among countries including the U.S., Australia, Peru, Canada, Mexico, and Japan (and notably not including China—an omission that has led the Chinese to see the Partnership a ploy for creating a U.S.-centric counterweight to China’s regional heft). Negotiations on the TPP have been in progress for three years and are near a conclusion at the diplomatic level. The domestic politics of its approval by Congress are increasingly complicated, with an alliance of right- and left- wing opposition groups making themselves heard.