BHP Billiton chief extols trade benefits
In arguing for free trade between the US, China and the rest of the world, Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of BHP Billiton PLC, harkened back to the words of Benjamin Franklin.
“Franklin was a man of science and the world who argued in favor of free trade and who said no nation was ever ruined by trade,” Mackenzie told the Asia Society on Monday in New York.
BHP is the world’s biggest mining company by market capitalization.
Mackenzie spoke on “Asia & Globalization: The Way Forward,” as part of the Asia Society’s CEO Series. He acknowledged that trade has become a hot-button issue.
Mackenzie encouraged Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), one of the most ambitious free trade agreements. In addition to the US, it involves 12 countries: Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
TPP eliminates most but not all tariffs on goods and services and attempts to establish minimal standards on environmental protection, worker rights and regulations that member countries will pledge to uphold.
“While China is not currently a party to TPP, I would advocate for their inclusion in future iterations,” he said.
Mackenzie said that if the US and China are connected through TPP, “the world will be drawn together and stabilized”.
TPP is an opportunity for US because it will give America a chance to provide the goods and services needed by an expanding middle class in Asia projected to number 3.2 billion by 2030.
US critics of TPP claim it is a giveaway to big business that still will enable companies to ship jobs overseas and would allow multinationals to challenge regulations and court rulings before special tribunals.
Mackenzie said that 20th century change was driven by “the values, culture and economic influence of the US. Some people think that China will be to the 21st century what the United States was to the 20th.”