AIF Blog

Youth Report: Michael Froman

Aug 12, 2014


As part of an initiative to broaden our audience and share ideas across several generations, we invited a range of high school students and recent graduates to join us at this year's Festival. The Youth Report blog series was born out of interviews these enterprising students did with several AIF speakers. We’re thrilled to share their voices here.

By Dede Heldfond, Georgetown University, Class of 2018

I had the opportunity to join US Trade Representative Michael Froman at the Ideas Festival for an in-depth discussion about the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). In the increasingly globalized economy that we live in, Froman and his team attempt to define what these agreements mean for jobs, growth, and US competitiveness overseas.

These trade negotiations that will hopefully lead to agreements, are important as theUS is seeks to create free trade with countries representing two thirds of global GDP. According to Froman, nearly 95% of global consumers live outside the US and the US GDP is growing at 2%. If we want to grow, we must have access to international markets. The purpose of TTP and T-TIP, is to attempt to lower other countries barriers so that we can export more.


The goal is for the US to be involved in Asia and Europe and to create a less restrictive global economy. These agreements would set high standard rules on labor, environment, and intellectual property rights. While this is an ambitious task, Froman suggests that these high standard agreements will raise international trade standards for future generations. Moreover, because companies want to exist in a trusting environment, these agreements show that countries are reliable investments and open up international markets.

There are a lot of struggles that the US faces while trying to sell T-TIP and TTP. For T-TIP, the question of how to bridge the differences between regulation in two highly globalized and developed economies is a constant concern. For example, there are a lot of barriers on agriculture because countries in Europe want to keep out unwanted substances and also protect local industries. The US has to find a way to make sure these agreements don’t compromise national standards and domestic industries. 

Furthermore, there are many critics of these international trade agree, but Froman suggests that the people who complain that we must compete with cheap labor don’t realize that these are binding, fully enforceable and set standards high for the future. These agreements, specifically TTP, create markets of middle class consumers who will eventually consume our products and allow the US to compete effectively.

Ultimately, there is a widespread criticism of trade. People are unsure about trade negotiations as a result of the steady decline of manufacturing jobs in the US, but Froman proposes that technology is a much bigger impact on manufacturing jobs than globalization. Many people, both in the US and abroad, conflate trade agreements with globalization. At the end of the day, Froman conjures up that globalization is a force that we can’t turn back. People don’t realize that we shape globalization with trade agreements, not let trade agreements shape globalization.




Related speakers: