The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Negotiations for the TPP agreement should be abandoned

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/28/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,284 times Debate No: 33026
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (2)




Welcome one and all to the grand finals of the second ELO tournament. Special thanks to Noumena for setting things up, Raisor for suggesting an interesting subject as well as agreeing to the final motion and everybody else who competed for making things fun. Extra-special thanks to anybody that votes. Just try to remember to be fair and constructive if you can.

The TPP agreement is a little acronym for the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic "Partnership", which is basically a free trade deal. A mini-version of this deal, called the P4 agreement (of which my country is a signatory, along with Chile, Singapore and Brunei) has existed since 2005, but since then loads of other countries (including the USA and most recently Japan) have tried to negotiate their way into the deal. In this debate, I will argue that this is a dumb idea. In fact, I reckon all of these agreements have been a waste of time.

I'd like to wish my opponent good luck and, after this acceptance round, look forward to a fun and interesting debate.


I accept this debate
Debate Round No. 1


If free trade were so amazing, there would be no need for a silly agreement that takes ages to work out. The fact is that there are brilliant reasons for restricting trade, foremost among them that free trade is a total failure.

Economic impacts on individuals

The reason why governments impose restrictions on trade is to protect local people, their economic security, their society and their environment. This is important and usually legitimate. For example, when multinationals buy up or trade in local sectors, their profits go offshore and are rarely reinvested. This is coupled with a typical increase in consumption in these countries as trade drives prices down. The result is a huge capital outflow that reduces the funds available to employers, reducing wages. Unsustainable imports cannot be sustained - that's a tautology.

If that sounds familiar to any US citizens, it's because free trade isn't the only way to make things affordable while stealing the profits - currency controls can do the same thing. As people from the US know, China has a longstanding policy of gaming their currency to ruin your markets by making their decent-quality stuff affordable (alongside policies like having poor working conditions for their people). 70% of America's GDP is consumer spending, most of that is foreign spending, and most of that is to China, so the USA's primary business is currently "making China richer". Now you guys want even cheaper stuff by opening yourselves up to more competition from countries like Japan. The result is that many of the USA's manufacturing jobs are now lost to the Chinese. It makes things more affordable at the checkout, but you don't realise the flow-on effects to your wages. It affects everyone, even those who are not in competition with foreign countries.

Tying prices to world prices has another big issue - world prices are really volatile compared with what the price would be locally. This leads to some pretty absurd arrangements, such as the fact that New Zealand milk is currently relatively cheaper in Europe than it is in NZ. But more dangerously, if one country (say, I don't know, Brunei or Mexico) falls into a financial crisis, that affects price signals everywhere else rather than in just that one country, allows for quicker capital outflows, etc. If we are one global village and there's a plague, we all die. If we are a team of villages protecting our interests, we are as a whole stronger. These are the kinds of legitimate reasons governments impose restrictions on trade.

Social costs

Without these protections, governments create a race to the bottom. With no protections, multinationals invest in countries that are the most profitable for them, which is another way of saying the cheapest. While they exploit the poor people in some poor country, other countries start to attempt to attract investment as they become poor. Governments (usually) reduce standards as well as civil and political liberties. When business is able to dictate the behaviour of the government in this way, then governments cease to be democratic. They become corporatist, out of necessity and survival. This might not be so big an issue for America, but most of the negotiating countries here are actually democratic. Democracy beats plutocracy all people are equal and all people matter - not just those who happen to head the big companies in pursuit of short-term profits.

There's a myth that trade can be deregulated and made more efficient. Trade cannot be deregulated - when governments lose control, corporations have all the power of international trade. The economic problem is that trade is driven by price signals, but price signals do not signal externalities. Trade makes things more affordable in dollar terms, but the other costs - to the environment, to the workers etc - are not included. This is WHY free trade drives prices down - it hides the costs away for future generations to worry about - in fact, it PROHIBITS governments from signalling the true price of goods not for people's benefit, but for the benefit of megacorporations. In almost every case where free trade has led to an ongoing profit, it has come at the cost of some nonrenewable natural resource in that country (such as the case of America and Australia's free trade agreement, which has lost Australia a lot of uranium, the US a lot of money, and the world a lot of nuclear security), which is one of the most pernicious costs since it can never be restored or repaid.

So under free trade, because of the lack of protections, the only way you can get money is by destroying yourself, and the only way you can spend money is to - well, destroy yourself. It's a lose-lose.

If a country was to gain by having free trade, then I'm all for the government allowing free trade. They don't need a free trade agreement to have free trade. But FORCING governments to a policy of free trade when, barring extraordinary circumstances, it is really bad economics to do so, is probably a really bad idea.

Corporate structure

For those who are NOT megacorporations, more foreign control of the market means more imperfect competition, since only large competitors will fight seriously overseas. Couple that with the fact your customers have less to spend as profits are taken offshore and layoffs happen, the only business position that is advantageous is as a shareholder or director of one of the big companies. It's no secret that countries with freer trade, such as the USA, also tend to be more monopolistic, and small business often has a hard time even getting off the ground. That actually undermines innovation and competition in the local economy, instead making the whole economy compete against other economies just to survive. And in the battlefield, local businesses are the ones in the firing line.

To combat this, economists have come up with a silly theory they call "comparative advantage". Megacorporations might be pillaging you over there, but you can sell them something else over here so it's all good. Not true. First, it's still exploitation in the name of megacorporation profits, and smaller corporations missing out on the profits they would have otherwise received. Second, that's an unusual case. Most of the time factors of production simply are not mobile enough to randomly switch industries just because big fish say so. If you've been a farmer your whole life, and now your country has only a comparative advantage in accounting, then all your cows, sheds, land and skills don't really provide any ability to switch. Third, megacorporations exist in almost every industry, leaving no little niches for small players to get their comparative advantages in. At most you can target some kind of premium model where you convince people to pay more because "it's local". That's naturally and economically counter-intuitive to any rational customer - why should they have to pay more for a business with no real superior value? The answer, of course, is that the stuffing up of price signals has screwed over local business too.

That's not all

Every leak so far has made it very clear that this is not just a free trade agreement. The very fact that it is secret - which is rare with such negotiations - is undemocratic and highly suspect. These kinds of agreements allow executive branches of government to avoid the legislature, reducing transparency and undermining the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy. The kinds of provisions we're talking about here include controversial IP measures which eliminate things like fair use, making ALL capital controls illegal (not just trade) and ending many simple restrictions governments put on alcohol and tobacco sales (see Even if it was just what it claimed - a simple free trade agreement - then that would be bad. Increasingly, however, it seems unlikely that this is the case.

The resolution is affirmed.


1) Trade Wars

  1. TPP is a free trade agreement that works to inhibit protectionist economic policies. One specific anti-protectionist aspect the U.S. is pushing for would restrict the ability of state-owned enterprises to distort market conditions in pursuit of trade objectives.

  2. Protectionism leads to trade wars- empirics prove. When the Smoot Hawley act raised tariffs in the U.S. in 1930, a wave of reactionary tariffs instated by other countries cause U.S. trade to drop by 50%[4].

  3. Trade wars create economic dead weight loss and inhibit economic growth for all parties. Protectionist policies in the 1930’s greatly contributed to the Great Depression [4].

  4. Trade wars create tension in international relations that can lead to real wars or undermine political goodwill during diplomatic negotiations. A study of 10,000 country pairs from 1870-1997 showed that healthy trade relations reduced the likelihood of war by 50%[7].

2) U.S. Hegemony

  1. Asia is booming in terms of economic and political power. Multiple Asian free trade agreements are creating regional integrations that exclude the U.S., undermining U.S. leadership [5]. Now is a crucial time to cement the U.S. place in regional economic architecture; failure to act now risks missing the boat- future Asian trade opportunities will permanently shift away from the U.S.[3] The TPP ensures a strong U.S. economic and geopolitical presence in Asia.

  2. The U.S. is the largest economy in the TPP, allowing significant leverage in shaping the agreement. Participation in TPP boosts favorable perception of the US by Asian countries and strengthens trade ties [3].

  3. U.S. Hegemony is key to global stability, particularly in the Pacific Rim. Multiple flashpoints for conflict such as the Korean peninsula, the South Chinese Sea, and Taiwan mean that likelihood of war is high without a Hegemonic presence.

  4. Specifically, the growing geopolitical power of China creates a very scenario for nuclear war. As China looks to overtake the U.S., conflicts will arise. For example, currently China maintains the right to use force in disputes involving Taiwan while the U.S. denies this right and sells arms to Taiwan for its defense. Taiwan exists as a symbol of power and is prime real estate for a US-Sino proxy war. Such a war has the potential to spill over into all-out war between nuclear superpowers.

  5. The TPP prevents US-Sino war by preventing the decline of US influence in the Pacific Rim and strengthening the U.S. strategic position relative to China.

3) Economy

  1. We can talk all day about oddities of international trade and where New Zealand gets its milk, but the data is clear: globalization has unambiguously improved the economic prospects of nearly everyone in the world. The stats: “world poverty rates have fallen by 80% from 0.268 in 1970 to 0.054 in 2006. The corresponding total number of poor has fallen from 403 million in 1970 to 152 million in 2006… measures of global welfare increased by somewhere between 128% and 145%.” [1]. We are in an era of unprecedented global economic growth, and studies show that incomes of the poor rise 1-to-1 with overall economic growth [8].

  2. This economic growth is due to opening of markets and free trade. Studies of international economies during the 70’s and 80’s found that those with open trade relations grew at a rate six times greater than those with closed. [8]

  3. The TPP exists as a starting point for broader free trade agreements like the FTAAP [3]. Such an agreement would involve 40% of U.S. trade and would yield a $200 billion increase in exports.[5] The TPP offers tremendous economic benefits to its members.

  4. The China job-loss scenario described by Pro is the result of currency manipulation, which is a protectionist policy. This sort of government manipulation of trade markets is exactly what the TPP prevents.

  5. Trade isn’t zero-sum; open markets create efficient allocation of resources so that everyone benefits. Pro illustrates this in his example about cheap Chinese goods and loss of U.S. manufacturing: efficient resource allocation means that China now has manufacturing jobs and the U.S. gets affordable iPods. The U.S. labor market will then adjust accordingly to replace those manufacturing jobs.

  6. The U.S. manufacturing sector has historically benefitted from free trade. Manufacturing under NAFTA has resulted in a trade surplus; U.S. has a globally competitive manufacturing sector.[5]

  7. The dead weight loss from protectionist policies has real impact on quality of life. Buy American provisions mandate U.S. steel on public works projects unless U.S. steel is 25% more expensive. This effectively raises the cost of public works projects by 25%, which can make or break a project budget. The dead weight loss from this policy manifests itself in unbuilt bridges and water treatment facilities.

  8. Globalized prices are actually more stable than local prices because a diversified market is better able to absorb local disruptions. This is just the common sense of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Pro gives no evidence that world prices are more volatile.

  9. Pro’s capital outflow argument has no evidence to back it up and makes no sense. Japan definitely reinvests the money it gets from trade surplus.

4) Social Cost

  1. Pro offers no evidence of a race to the bottom. Actual economic research finds no evidence of an increase in inequality due to international trade or of a widening of rich/poor gap [2].

  2. Pro’s argument is empirically denied. Multiple free trade arguments exist in democratic countries with no signs of a race to the bottom. NAFTA didn’t turn Canada into a corporatist dystopia.

  3. The existing TPP agreement between P-4 countries contains agreements to promote sound labor and environmental policies and prohibits countries from using these policies for protectionist purposes [3]. This turns the case: TPP explicitly prevents race to the bottom.

  4. Economic studies correlate development to decrease in Human Rights violations [6]

  5. The TPP still allows for domestic laws that acknowledge externalities like environmental costs. The EPA will still exist once the U.S. ratifies TPP and non-ratification won't create regulation where it doesn't already exist.

  6. Comparative advantage is real and it is how resources are allocated efficiently. Industries will always face collapse if they don’t stay competitive- protectionist policies simply prop up failing industries in the face of an evolving world rather than swimming with the current and evolving with the world.

5) Corporate Structure

  1. Pro is just plain wrong that only megacorporations are involved overseas. Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) make up 97% of all importers and exporters in the U.S. [5]

  2. In reality it is megacorporations that benefit the most from protectionism. Only large companies have the political access needed to influence governmental policy. Additionally, only large companies can overcome trade barriers more easily by establishing foreign subsidiaries.[5]

6) Other Stuff?

  1. Negotiations between heads of state are obviously secret, but eventually the agreement will be public and will have to be ratified by elected officials.

  2. Pro gives no reason why we any of the stuff he mentioned is bad. Internet agreements are needed to allow SME’s to easily access overseas markets.










Debate Round No. 2


My opponent seems to have assumed that my policies are anti-globalisation. I reckon globalisation is great - provided that you maintain regulatory freedom. To this end I support more trade, but not if that trade comes at the expense of social or economic concessions in the name of short term profits. In the last round I told you free trade has never created some ongoing profit without vastly exploiting some non-renewable natural resource. I'm still waiting to be proven wrong.


In the last forty years we've exploited more non-renewable natural resources than at any point in our planet's history, so that's how we maintained profit despite increasing free trade. I must disagree that this growth has been equal among the rich and poor. There is ample evidence showing that some countries (which lost - or worse, won - the race to the bottom) have a massively increased income gap now, which can be explicitly linked to free trade - see

GDP, however, I would not confuse for economic growth. When a multinational creates lots of products in NZ but steals the profits to Australia, that improves NZ's GDP (and that's the main reason economists aren't calling us junk yet). Only when those funds are reinvested in Australia does it count for theirs. So those of us that haven't run away to Australia have a few more years of safety while stuff becomes increasingly less affordable. The capital outflows that occurred in this period to generate that growth are masked in the measurement system the economists in con's sources use.

Having more exports does not mean more sustainable exports. Increasing exports by $200b over a signature on a piece of paper is setting up an economy for collapse, because the production value of that economy does not magically increase by $200b, nor is consumption reduced. Having a "trade surplus" in manufactured goods doesn't mean things will stay that way - the primary business of the US remains making China richer. It also means that other countries in NAFTA have a trade deficit in manufactured goods

Government manipulation of trade markets is just as bad as corporate manipulation of trade markets, if not worse for social reasons. There's no economic advantage to the re-regulation of markets from governments to business.

I just don't accept that "The U.S. labor market will then adjust accordingly" for the multiple reasons I gave last round. Even if they did the trade will still be zero-sum since the new jobs will cause job losses somewhere else just as the Chinese jobs did.

The 25% higher steel prices also massively allow you to increase steel output and achieve economies of scale, lowering costs on manufactured goods, raising wages in the industry, bringing in more jobs, and not using steel from countries where steel-making conditions might not be so good.

For prices to adapt to local disruptions is normal and good. When there is a huge disaster and prices don't immediately drop for example, people become short-changed as they lose income instantly. They're volatile because prices are no reflection of local conditions, but international ones. Free trade with more countries makes this worse.

Reinvesting money from trade surplus is the PROBLEM. It locks up money in producer countries like Japan and drains it from consumer countries like the USA.

Trade Wars

There's a difference between mandating no protectionism and overdoing protectionism. Free markets may be good in many instances but not all - we have exceptions. Sometimes SOEs are among them (like, for example, NZ's monopoly on drugs buying with "Pharmac", which has saved New Zealand billions in bulk discounts at the expense of US big pharma profits).

The world is not in a trade war, nor is the pacific, nor is there any reason to believe it will be soon, nor is mandating free trade the best possible response. In fact, a trade war with an undesirable trading partner (which is why you'd have tariffs, right?) is desirable.


That hegemony has frequently upset stability, and the USA has a very bad track record when it comes to peace. In any event it's not helped by the fact all the negotiating partners are historical enemies of China (one even has an ongoing land claim), and that China is likely to perceive any growing hegemony in the region by the US as a threat. Moreover, the Asian nations don't really want US hegemony either. They're quite happy maintaining their right to self-determination.

Social cost

My opponent has no response to any of my arguments that price signals do not factor externalities that governments should correct for.

Contrary to my opponent's assertion, much actual economic research is clear that races to the bottom do exist in free trade - see,, and - as well as much investigative journalism - see,, and Naturally it's very hard to prove free trade CAUSED certain bad policies to be implemented later, but the logic WHY is sound.

I'm not opposed to international trade. Only free trade, and even then not always. Con's research is all irrelevant.

While the P4 agreement had some mandates to soften the impact of the social costs, that doesn't mean there hasn't been a social cost. All four signatories aren't exactly rolling in wealth as a result. In NZ worker rights have been reduced with trial period employments and youth wages, Chile has seen a string of high-profile industrial accidents (particularly involving mining), Singapore - well, they've always had next to no worker rights let alone human rights. Brunei is the sole exception, having strengthened labour laws - but also seen the least benefit, with a year on year real GDP growth rate of only about 0.52% since signing (in the 3 years prior it had been 3.2%), which is well below inflation. This loss of economic power has in effect been a social cost.


The many SMEs who do import and export don't do a lot of the actual importing and exporting, as my opponent's own data shows - in fact they do about a third of it, according to con's source. In real terms, it's clearly very heavily skewed towards megacorporations. The point is that that issue will get worse under the TPP for all the reasons I gave last round.

Foreign subsidiaries and other loopholes are exactly that - loopholes. Governments who ignore them are corrupt as opposed to protectionist. We both oppose corruption.

Even if the market is flooded with foreign SMEs, that undermines business competition as well, as economic theory is quite clear you can't make a profit in perfect competition. The assumption is that all businesses face equal costs, which they don't, creating strong incentives for a race to the bottom that most countries just can't win.

My opponent does nothing to combat my three reasons why comparative advantage doesn't work. He just reasserts it without considering my rebuttal.

Other stuff

There's no reason for this negotiation to be secret, other than the fact that every leak so far has made it apparent the heads of state have a lot to hide. It's not like any negotiating party's trade interests are a big secret or anything. It's bad because it's tacking a hidden agenda on to an otherwise harmless-looking policy. That's bad for democracy, transparency, and ultimately accountability.

A website is accessible from anywhere, so it's not very hard for SMEs to launch themselves into overseas markets online. You don't need to add agreements like forcing ISPs (as opposed to courts) to be responsible for policing copyright for the sake of SMEs overseas.

I look forward to the final round.


In this round I will make a point by point rebuttal of my opponent:


Pro does not dispute that US Hegemony is in jeopardy or that the TPP is crucial to integrating the US into the Pacific geopolitical architecture. Unlike trade, geopolitics IS zero-sum: The threat to Heg is from China, the U.S. needs to integrate into Asian regional leadership or China will take that role. Asian economic agreements that exclude the US are already being created, the US needs to act now or it risks being permanently locked out of the Pacific power structure. Moreover, the TPP is a launching point for broader agreements like the FTAAP.

China will perceive this as a threat, but China is not yet at a point where it can safely retaliate. The danger is in allowing the balance of power to shift to a point where China feels it is capable of challenging the US.

The US actually has a great track record when it comes to peace. The wars under the Pax Americana have been small and localized compared to the ravages of the World Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the constant state of medieval warfare. U.S. power is a stabilizing force, punishing territorial aggression in the Gulf War and preventing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Moreover, whether the US is a benign Hegemon is irrelevant, as Pro does not deny that Taiwan is a power symbol and that if China overtakes the U.S. it becomes a flashpoint for nuclear war. History proves that major power shifts are incredibly violent; a US-Sino war would be on the order of WWIII. The danger of upsetting the global balance of power is magnitudes larger than any possible economic impact (good or bad) of the TPP.


Pro claims the explosion of global economic growth is due to exploitation of resources, but the fact is it has been globalization and free trade which allowed humanity to profit from these resources. The resources have always been around, but only globalization catalyzed the economic explosion. My [1] explains that the economic boom occurred immediately following the fall of American and European trade barriers in the 50’s and 60’s. Only once free trade creates a comparative advantage that makes resource exploitation profitable can massive economic growth occur.

GDP is a key indicator of economic growth, though it might be misleading in very peculiar cases, but my sources rely on a variety of indicators; [2] shows economic growth based on the decreasing number of people living below the poverty line.

Pro makes a preposterous claim that increasing exports by $200b would collapse the US economy, and he makes it with no evidence. $200b is income for families, wealth for infrastructure development, and $200b worth of goods the rest of the world is able to purchase. My [8] clearly shows that open trade has a huge multiplier on economic growth.

Pro claims government manipulation of trade markets is bad, but this is exactly what protectionism is! Tariffs and regulations create external costs of doing business and so manipulate market forces. Pro has no stable theory of what is actually good for the economy. He says it is better for markets to be isolated, but globalization is also good; he says protectionism is good, but government manipulation is bad; his argument can’t be true for the simple fact it’s so contradictory.

According to Pro’s economic theory, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Considering the massive Hegemonic benefit to the TPP, it’s a no brainer to continue negotiations.

It is unfortunate that Pro “just doesn’t accept” that labor markets will adjust to competitive pressures, but massive structural changes has occurred during the process of globalization [2] and not only did markets adjust, they excelled. The massive global economic growth in the past 40 years is an outgrowth of these shifting markets.

Pro’s steel argument makes zero sense- economies of scale already exist but they can’t undercut Chinese steel prices. Artificially high steel prices means less projects get built, which means less steel is sold by everyone. It also means the projects that do get built are 25% more expensive, so U.S. steelworkers have to spend more of their smaller paycheck on goods.

Pro doesn’t respond to my point that globalized markets create stability. If Ireland has a potato famine and is an isolated market, they starve. If they are a globalized market, there is a blip in global potato prices and the world moves on.

Trade War

Pro doesn’t dispute that historically protectionist policies lead to trade wars or that the TPP explicitly prevents trade wars. Pro’s only response is that we aren’t in a trade war now and won’t be soon. But no one plans to get in a trade war- protectionist policies can pop up any time a country thinks it will solve a trade gap, they are responses to inevitable circumstances. If Japan is suddenly undercut on auto exports, they might respond with protectionism and trigger a trade war. The only way to prevent such an event is to prevent it with an agreement like the TPP- the TPP prevents historically probably crises.

Pro also doesn’t respond to the point that trade cuts the likelihood of war in half. This is an independent benefit to increased trade, regardless of whether a trade war occurs or not.

Social Cost

Even if price signals don’t factor in some externalities, abandoning the TPP doesn’t solve this. Pro needs to demonstrate what impact the TPP has on such externalities and he hasn’t done that at all. Cross apply [3] that the TPP actually explicitly acknowledge externalities.

Pro’s use of sources on race to the bottom is terrible; he didn’t number them so I have no way to reference them and Pro gives no explanation of what any of them mean. Most of them are ambivalent about race to the bottom and contain only anecdotal evidence. Compare this to my [2] which is full of economic regressions showing decrease in population below the poverty line, rising incomes, and no increase in inequality due to globalization.

Additionally, Pro’s third source says that “The race to the bottom can be prevented by South–South agreement to honour labour standards.” The TPP does this- it contains an agreement to promote sound labor practices; Pro’s own source says that such agreements solves race to the bottom.

Pro’s sources are in reference to “globalization,” despite Pro’s opening claim that he is not anti-globalization. Again, Pro says his position is A then claims B.

Pro tries to cherry-pick data to make it appear as though P4 countries are floundering (which is of course due to the TPP rather than the global economic downturn), but I could do the same, e.g. Chile is doing great economically [1]. Pro gives no evidence mining accidents have anything to do with the TPP.


Again, Pro has no stable position- TPP is bad because it means we have more megacorporations but having more SME’s creates a race to the bottom.

My refutation of Pro’s criticism of comparative advantage is in the empirical evidence: open trade carries a huge economic multiplier, results in global economic growth, and reduces poverty.

Even if SME’s represent 1/3 of trade traffic, that’s still a huge portion of small companies that benefit from free trade. Moreover, that number will only get bigger since trade barriers are harder to overcome for small companies. Pro doesn’t refute my arguments that trade barriers disproportionately favor megacorporations.

Other stuff

There’s nothing special about negotiations being secret- this is standard international diplomacy. No matter, how the TPP is negotiated will have zero impact on democracy.

Cyber corporate espionage is a serious threat to small companies. Internet security provisions are crucial to the success of SME’s [12].




Debate Round No. 3


On the one hand we've heard a lot of claims that trade is good, free trade means more trade, and that therefore any free trade agreement is desirable. It all comes down to what you want. If you want cheap goods, the TPP will provide them. The TPP will make your country wealthy. The empirical data pro has shown has been (mostly) correct. But these impacts are not desirable. They ignore flow-on long-term impacts of a policy of maximising trade (and by implication production), rather than maximising standard of living. This debate is really about what economic reality you want to see and what price you're willing to pay.

Trade is good – but so is regulation.


My opponent concedes that there is an inevitable price to pay in natural resources, and further adds that the resources have always been around, indicating that this exploitation is not necessary. If trade improves efficiency, that should reduce the need for exploitation still further. Free trade destroys our planet.

My opponent concedes GDP does not measure capital outflows. Number of people below the poverty line doesn't either, particularly when (like my opponent's source does) "poverty" is defined relative to the value of US currency and nominal income, not purchasing power and local conditions. Besides, the source deals with trade as opposed to free trade, so I ignored it.

If you sell $200b of stuff, you have $200b less stuff, so you sell less in America. When the fat cats earn their paychecks, they'll go spending on imports, not reinvesting to create jobs (which is where the problem really is). With less American stuff to spend on, you'll hardly see any benefit from that $200b, but China will see it. $200b is not a multiplier for growth if it's just given away. You just lose your stuff.

Government manipulation of trade markets is bad - FOR EFFICIENCY. That's what I said. I also said corporations can restrict efficiency JUST AS MUCH but free trade puts no limits on them. I further added that corporations can also control social aspects of trade in ways that bolster their profit at the expense of society, but con ignored that. My stable theory is that regulations must be isolated and carefully considered based on their individual economic impact. There's nothing contradictory about liking trade and wanting to restrict it.

The "massive economic growth of the last 40 years" has been illusionary and mostly fuelled by bubbles. The biggest labor market shift of the last 40 years has been in IT. Where labor markets have adjusted, such as in India, that has displaced US IT jobs. Factors of production did prove immobile, so computers signalled the collapse of many companies. Megacorporations did arise and they are pillaging other industries – ie the newspaper industry. And the professions it replaced have no niches either. In the US, it's most apparent with Mexican job displacement under NAFTA ( Everything I've said about the labor market has always proven true. The rest is a neoliberal fantasy.

When foreign steel must cost at least 25% more that doesn't mean you pay 25% more - unless, of course, you are dead set on buying foreign steel over local steel. More steel is produced in the United States as opposed to abroad. This creates the flow-on benefits I mentioned last round. It’s not a price floor.

I'm all for Ireland being allowed to import potatoes. I'm not for them being banned from regulating this trade. That might mean price increases - or decreases. If Ireland loses their income in a famine but potato prices are set at the world price, they still starve.


China is the USA's largest trading partner and has zero reason for going to war. For them to attack the USA destroys their largest source of wealth. Even if they were, you can safely assume that the USA cuddling up to their neighbours is not going to go down any better than Russia cuddling up to Cuba did during the missile crisis. They can't do anything about it now, but if you give them reason to attack you, then perhaps they might. Moreover, the other nations are quite happy maintaining their rights to self determination, a point con dropped.

The fact is that the USA has started more wars than any other nation on this planet today ( Even if this were not the case, the perception is enough to undermine support. Put simply, if Chile wanted to be a US puppet, you wouldn't have instigated a coup d'état against them in 1973 because you wanted marginally cheaper copper prices.

Taiwan, like, say, Okinawa, has been a power symbol for a very long time and it has never heated up. Ownership of Taiwan HAS changed and still nothing has heated up.

For trade wars, many of the same factors apply. You don't need a free trade agreement to have free trade. If free trade was so good, then trade wars would not be inevitable. If I conquer the Bahamas and found Child Slavetopia, trade with me would not be desirable and a trade war would be a good thing. A trade gap is another thing that can make trade wars a good idea. Frankly, if the USA got into a trade war with any negotiating partner - ie Brunei or NZ – the USA will be hurting a lot less as there are more options to buy from than to sell to. NZ and Brunei, incidentally, have both never been in a trade war because they're not dumb.

I support trade, preventer of wars. Not free trade. Different thing.

Social Cost

My point last round was that you can't account for every externality. The current P4 agreement tried to account for some, and failed.

My sources are ambivalent because free trade doesn't ALWAYS create a race to the bottom, just USUALLY. If governments are willing to forfeit the promised wealth of trade, possibly nationalise important services etc, these races can be prevented. My opponent's source is basically a blanket statement that trade is economically good. This is ALSO usually true - races to the bottom are economically good, raise incomes (because the alternative is having nothing) etc - but they are also socially destructive.

The TPP's definition of sound labor practices is incredibly narrow and covers few conditions of employment. The fact that Singapore is in it - consistently one of the worst places in the world for civil economic rights - proves that sound labor isn't going to be happening.

I'm not anti-global-trade. I'm anti-liberalising-trade. I was using globalisation in the sense of the former; my sources used the latter sense.

Chile IS doing great economically. SOCIALLY there is no question that labor standards in Chile remain low, particularly in mining.


Most markets with foreign protectionism are oligopolies, price controls limiting foreign players differently. Without that restriction, if the markets (as is likely) are imperfect (ie megacorporations) they become monopolistic. If the markets are perfect (rare), profits are limited. A monopolistic market sparks a race to the bottom if the monopoly threatens to pull out; a perfect market with unequal profits creates pressures from local businesses to reduce their costs and thus create a race to the bottom from within.

Still no response to my 3 reasons comparative advantage fails.

I refuted trade barriers advantaging megacorporations by pointing out all con's mechanisms are loopholes and corruption, not features of protectionism.

Many SMEs would benefit, but that benefit would be negligible considering how many SMEs there are that have to share it. Megacorporations make the real profits.

Other stuff

I agree we need internet security, but this should have nothing to do with a free trade deal and is a different topic for discussion, so why was it tacked on? Con does not refute the other strange things that were tacked on, like the elimination of fair use and capital controls.

Secret negotiations are unprecedented ( Con does not refute that more transparency and democracy is good in negotiations (see also

The resolution is affirmed.



Pro concedes that my free trade economy arguments are correct; Pro concedes that the TPP will lower the cost of goods and generate wealth. Right here I win the economy argument, by Pro’s own admission.

Pro’s main contention is that the TPP will hurt “standard of living.” Yet all the evidence I have given in this round shows that free trade reduces poverty, creates more efficient economies, and generates wealth. Together these all suggest a drastic increase in standard of living. The economic well being of individuals is clearly improved by the TPP, so Pro must mean something different when he says “standard of living,” though he fails to define exactly what that might be.

According to Pro, selling $200b of stuff is the same as “just giving it away” and “just losing stuff.” Aside from this being a ridiculous argument at face value, the evidence shows the opposite- my [8] shows statistically that free trade produces an economic multiplier and [1] shows that huge rate of modern growth was due to the fall of trade barriers post-WWII.

Pro makes a new argument that the growth of the past 40 years has been due to bubbles, yet provides no evidence to this effect. Pro claims NAFTA caused job displacement, despite the period following NAFTA’s enactment showing record job growth and a boost in industrial output.[2] And again, “job displacement” is just the market adjusting to become more efficient. Yes, many US IT jobs are now in India, but the result is that the services these IT jobs support is now cheaper and the US employees now have different jobs. Yes NAFTA displaced jobs, but the US economy responded by rapidly growing in other job sectors.

When foreign steel must cost at least 25% more, it means US steel companies will bid jobs just under 25% more than foreign companies. This is something that actually happens, though in the example given the US companies bid 23% higher). [1]


Pro is completely ignoring my China argument: I am not arguing that China will outright attack the U.S. I am arguing that when major power shifts happen, countries are more likely to forcefully assert their interests and are more likely to make miscalculations that result in war. One example of how this might happen is over the island of Taiwan, where China maintains the right of forceful intervention and the U.S. denies this right while supplying Taiwan with weapons. This is a point of contention specifically about military power that could easily erupt into war.

Currently U.S. Hegemony is in decline due to the rising star of China. The loss of influence in Asia due to developing Asian economic agreements that exclude the U.S. represents a zero sum power struggle between the U.S. and China: either the U.S. is frozen out of the Pacific economic architecture and China get a monopoly on regional influence, or the U.S. establishes itself in the Pacific and China loses influence. The TPP is a unique opportunity for the U.S. to build itself into the Pacific economy and prevent a decline of Hegemony. The TPP is also a springboard for much larger agreements like the FTAAP.

The Cuban missile crisis is totally different from an economic free trade agreement- China won’t threaten nuclear war over the TPP.

Of course Taiwan has not heated up historically, because the US maintains Hegemony and is overwhelmingly stronger than China. The danger comes if China gains equal footing to the US, then asserting strategic interests becomes feasible and conflict becomes inevitable.

Again, whether the US is a benign Hegemon is irrelevant. Yes the US starts wars, but that doesn’t change the fact that the unipolar global system created by the US is much more stable and safe than a bipolar one where China and the US compete militarily. Additionally, Pro’s source on how violent the US is comes from “the first Iranian news network;” the fact is the U.S. global order is much more peaceful than the international anarchy that lead to the world wars.

Pro doesn’t dispute my specific examples of how the US maintains global order- by protecting territorial sovereignty as it did when Iraq invaded Kuwait in the Gulf War.

Trade Wars

Pro is unresponsive to my central claims on trade wars: that they historically occur when protectionist policies are enacted and they are economically devastating.

Countries will eventually enact protectionist policies, whether its due to domestic political pressures or for whatever reason, unless international agreements are in place to prevent said protectionist policies. The TPP prevent protectionism and so is crucial to preventing trade wars.

Also, free trade reduces the probability of war by 50%- the TPP makes war less likely.

Social Cost

There is no way to account for every economic externality, but the TPP at least tries to by building in a commitment to sound labor practices. Most importantly, the TPP explicitly prevents changing labor policy to improve trade relations- this is a crucial anti-protectionist provision but it also prevents race to the bottom.

Even if you think the TPP won’t help labor practices, any negative impact it would have would be marginal. Pro says labor practices are bad already and makes no quantification of how much worse they could possibly get.
Additionally, Pro concedes that free trade contains only the possibility of race to the bottom, making adverse social costs a low probability impact. More importantly, any possible social cost of the TPP has to be weighed against the economic and global security impacts of the TPP.


Pro gives no evidence that the TPP will create monopolies. Cross apply all my evidence that shows that free trade has caused poverty reduction and economic growth, not monopolistic race to the bottom, in the past 40 years. This is the same hard evidence that proves that comparative advantage is real and that Pro concedes is correct.

Corporations benefit from trade barriers the most because they have the most public policy influence and because they can more easily establish foreign subsidiaries. Pro claims he refutes this by pointing out that these are loopholes and corruption. This is true, but these are also realities of how the system works- free trade removes these loopholes and corruption.

Extend that 1/3 of trade is done by SME’s which stand to benefit from the TPP.

Other stuff

This other stuff is honestly just not that important compared with the economic and geopolitical impact of the TPP. Global democracy won’t change because the TPP was negotiated behind closed doors, internet security provisions are needed to prevent corporate espionage.


Global security should be prioritized above all other impacts; the magnitude of a Sino-US war is huge and would cost thousands of lives and devastate the US and global economy.

The Economic impact of the TPP is the next most important impact. Pro has conceded that my analysis that free trade reduces global poverty and causes economic growth is mostly correct. Even if you think Pro is correct that free trade has some negative impacts on the labor market, the economic benefits I have shown at least mean the TPP will be neutral to the economy. Factor in that the TPP prevents risk of a trade war and the TPP is clearly an economic plus. When all the economic arguments are weighed, the TPP is at worst economically neutral at best a strong benefit to the economy.

The Social Cost of the TPP is barely worth considering next to global security and economy. Labor conditions are already poor and Pro concedes even if his arguments are correct TPP has only a small risk of creating race to the bottom. Even if you think Pro is 100% correct, the global security and economic benefits of the TPP outweigh concerns of social cost.

Negotiations for the TPP ought to be continued, please vote Con.

Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by rross 4 years ago
Listen. I really want to withdraw the word "dishonest" from my vote, but I can't because it's too late. I didn't really mean it the way it sounds. I should have said "irresponsible" instead.
Posted by rross 4 years ago
Yeah. It's unfair that you can't respond to the criticism. But, on the other hand, it's unreasonable to expect your opponent to address all those sources issues. It would take up way too much of his word count.

About the "deep readings of the evidence". It wasn't actually that deep. But yes, I had to do one search to get the primary research. That's what makes it so bad. That it wasn't immediately apparent you were using false evidence. Most people won't check sources, that's a given, and if they do they will check them superficially. That's why I didn't vote in that APA debate. There was just way too much extra material to read late at night. And it was like, who do I believe, you (seemingly more convincing) or Roylatham about the evidence? According to your reasoning, I should have just gone on my gut feeling from what was said in the debate. In that case, why have sources at all - are they really just for the opposition?

If you were right, it would be good, because it really is such a chore to check sources. Often I don't bother, but when you said that trade reduces the likelihood of war by 50%, it was such a startling statement that I was curious about the evidence. And then, when that was false, and Larz showed your claims about small and medium companies was misleading, I suspected everything.

So would you say the same thing for plagiarism - if the opposition doesn't complain, it's nobody else's business?
Posted by rross 4 years ago
"The standard you are holding me to on sources is one that 99% of the DDO community would fail."

Yes and no. Yes, it's true that sources are often used really badly. No, I think most people are honestly incompetent with sources and far less often cynically manipulating them.

"Even if you are correct in your criticisms, the sources question is whether larz' use of sources were better than mine. He didn't offer any explanation of his sources and CITED THE IRANIAN NEWS NETWORK Apparently misinterpreting a source is sketchier than linking to an Iranian mouthpiece..."

Yes, it really is sketchier. Way sketchier.

"Moreover, I had plenty of arguments such as "TPP contains labor provisions," free trade is more efficient (with specific examples), and globalization creating price stability that don't depend on sources."

Yes, you did lots of good things. Sorry, I'm not as good at voting as wrichcirw. I never list out everything.
Posted by rross 4 years ago
It's unfortunate that so few people voted, because the result shouldn't just come down to one person's opinion. I'm not sure what you mean by interventionist. I wasn't trying to be unfair, of course, and I'm sorry that you think so, but thank you for being so sane and polite about it.

My understanding of sources and conduct is that you're supposed to assess them separately from what's said in the debate. I don't think I'm alone in this because people are always saying stuff like "I haven't had time to check sources" and "I don't think wikipedia is a good source". And people are always voting on conduct for insults and forfeits whether or not the opposition complains about them. Especially with conduct, to link it to the opposition's response is just blaming the victim.

But yes, with arguments it's true that it should only be what the opposition argues. In this case, though, the argument was so fact-based. Pro was saying it would erode living standards, and you were saying it wouldn't. How can you judge it except to weigh up the credibility of each side?
Posted by Raisor 4 years ago
And to be clear, my hope is that this discussion will alter future voting behavior, not change the ballot on this debate. You have cast your ballot (though I believe on quite unfair grounds), your ballot was not a vote bomb (though I believe it was quite poorly reasoned), and so it should stand.
Posted by Raisor 4 years ago
My positions is that regardless of whether or not your assessment of my use of sources is correct, and I would dispute the assessment, your ballot is highly interventionist and unfair.

You make analysis and arguments that were not presented in the debate as justification for your ballot, essentially doing Pro's work for him and taking away Con's ability to rebut.
Posted by Raisor 4 years ago
The standard you are holding me to on sources is one that 99% of the DDO community would fail.

Even if you are correct in your criticisms, the sources question is whether larz' use of sources were better than mine. He didn't offer any explanation of his sources and CITED THE IRANIAN NEWS NETWORK Apparently misinterpreting a source is sketchier than linking to an Iranian mouthpiece...

Moreover, I had plenty of arguments such as "TPP contains labor provisions," free trade is more efficient (with specific examples), and globalization creating price stability that don't depend on sources.

Finally, its totally unwarranted to say "I didn't like a few of your sources" and then disregard everything I say with a source behind it. Especially when what you didnt like actually rests on pretty deep readings of the evidence. This gives me no opportunity to defend my sources or weigh how much the problems you found actually hurt my case. I have no opportunity to respond to your criticisms.

This is exactly why it IS my opponent's job to point out if my sources are unreliable or wrongly interpreted. Such a claim is contentious and deserves an opportunity for response. Whether or not the DDO description of the category includes this is irrelevant- voting practices should be based on criteria that best preserve fairness and education.
Posted by wrichcirw 4 years ago
I followed up on rross's claim on the Gleck and Taylor research. I found this:

"Most importantly, Table 6 indicates that trade dependence
significantly decreases the risk of war at better than 1% for the full sample as well as both
subperiods. This suggests that there may indeed be some reverse causality between the extent of
bilateral trade relations and the possibility of war."

"The results with country-pair fixed effects, however, show exactly what is driving this
result and give a markedly different picture of the effects of trade on war. The fixed effects
estimator indicates no effect of trade on war for the full sample as well as for the 1939"97
sample; for the 1870"1938 period, the coefficient is positive, but not significant. It is also worth
noting that the years of peace variable is positive with the fixed effect estimator, implying that
the longer the period of time since a particular country pair have engaged in war, the higher the
likelihood of a future war between them. "

This would corroborate a realist stance on international relations, and debunk a "liberal peace" stance. Trade has no correlation to warfare, only history of warfare has correlation in regards to future conflicts.


This was hard to find, mind you. As always, I'm impressed by rross's propensity to dig for truth. No way I'm going to fault raisor for not finding this, but that's just me lol.

Regardless, I didn't buy the trade war argument in the first place and it did not affect my voting.
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
"Additionally, Pro outright conceded my economic analysis and said that my data was correct."

Mind you, if you had read a little further you'll see that I also said you data was completely misleading and that their "benefits" are undesirable, in part because they completely ignore the harms. It didn't sound like a concession in my head when I proofread it, honest! That's definitely something I took away from the debate though to be careful about though.

Thanks for the vote rross.
Posted by rross 4 years ago
Arguments. "Which debater, on balance, did a better job of clearly explaining their arguments and of exposing the weakness of their opponent's arguments?"

It was a sources-heavy debate, and I think that you more than Pro relied on sources to carry your arguments. For example, the living standards, race-to-the-bottom argument, you mostly relied on your source (2), rather than explaining the argument in any way. Which means that, since your source was bodgy, you didn't counter this point at all.

This is also true for your argument that trade reduces war by 50% (bodgy source). So it was a big stretch to claim that the TPP would save us from war, which Pro pointed out. Also you never seemed to contest his argument about resources. And just generally, once your sources and conduct credibility was gone, it was hard to take any of your statements on faith.

So, at the end of the debate, Pro's stuff about living standards and resources was still standing, and the war thing was unconvincing. That's why I thought Pro won on arguments.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by rross 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Until I read this debate, I really thought Raisor was the best debater here. Maybe he was having an off day or something. My vote is about sources - I thought Con's were bad enough to lose the debate on arguments and, given his general debating ability, I thought they were dishonest and therefore lost conduct points as well. More in comments.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: see comments. Great debate. I will only award arguments, because CON gravitated away from his terse style to prose, and PRO's attacks on CON's sources were valid. The sources were fascinating by their own could learn a ton by reading the debate and the research that went into it. I wish there were more debates like this on this website.