Chris Low: Free trade deal with Asian economies is a great idea
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Jeremy Hobson: Now let’s get to the economic action happening across the other ocean — the Pacific. President Obama is heading to Hawaii today to host a summit of the 21 Asian economies that make up the group known as APEC. They’re going to be talking about a lot of things, including the possibility of a big 21 nation Pacific free trade deal.
For more, let’s bring in Chris Low, chief economist with FTN Financial, who unfortunately for him joins us now live not from Hawaii, but Connecticut. It’s a nice place to be though, Chris, good morning.
Chris Low: Good morning.
Hobson: Well, what about this idea of a free trade deal, with the Japanese saying this morning they’ll consider it — nine nations are on board. Is that a good idea?
Low: I think it’s a great idea. It’s going to be a really tough sell, because the Asian companies — many of them — have enormous trade barriers, but it something that seems to be working.
And I know Korean companies, for example, were so excited about the free trade deal we just signed with South Korea that they’ve been gearing up for years to start producing goods. It’s a good idea for the U.S. too, because it diversifies us away from China into the rest of Asia, which is a plus.
Hobson: Well, let’s talk about China, because President Obama is going to be talking with the Chinese president tomorrow. What would you tell him, what is the message the president should bring at this point?
Low: Well, I think one of the most important ones is to remind the Chinese gently they need us at least as much as we need them.
In particular, with Europe doing what Europe’s doing at the moment, China is about to lose quite a bit of business in one of its most important markets, so what better time to refocus on the trade relationship with the United States and improve it?
Hobson: Chris Low, chief economist with FTN Financial, thanks so much as always.
Low: Thank you.
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