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Since 2010, the United States has been negotiating a secret trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership.  If approved by Congress, this pact between the U.S. and 11 or 12 of America’s Pacific Rim trade-partners would govern 40 percent of US imports and exports.  So far, the negotiations are being conducted under tight security; for good reason, as there are big problems with TPP.

1. US trade negotiators want TPP to get special, “fast-track” treatment from Congress.  While Congress has the legal duty to oversee trade agreements, in the past it has given up some of that responsibility to the President.  Under a fast-track arrangement, trade agreements such as TPP, would simply get an up or down vote without Congress delving into the details.  The previous fast-track authorization lapsed in 2007 and now the Obama Administration wants Congress to restore it so that TPP will be approved with a minimum of fuss.

Interestingly, most Republicans are willing to give “fast-track” trade authority to President Obama even though they don’t trust him on other issues.  That’s because powerful transnational corporations want the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be approved.  The US Chamber of Commerce stated, “Completing the TPP would pay huge dividends for the United States. The agreement would significantly improve U.S. companies’ access to the Asia-Pacific region, which is projected to import nearly $10 trillion worth of goods in 2020.”

2. TPP doesn’t include China.  The TPP partners are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and potentially Korea.  But the Economic Policy Institute reported that since 2001, “the U.S. has lost 2.7 million jobs… due to growing trade deficits with China.”  The American Manufacturing website noted that approximately 40 percent of the US trade deficit is due to China, which “maintains numerous policies, including state-sponsored subsidies… [that] have a direct role in increasing the US-China trade imbalance.”

Recently, United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard observed that a key problem with TPP is the definition of “domestic product:”  “We’re supposed to compete with countries that are getting their parts from China… and exporting materials to here, when if they have 35% of material from their country they’re called ‘a domestic product’.”  In other words, a country such as Vietnam could get the majority of their material from China, assemble it in Hanoi, and then ship it to the US as as a “domestic product” – even when most of the content came from China.

3. Free-trade agreements, such as TPP, haven’t protected US jobs.  Public Citizen reported that since 1994, “the [freed-trade agreement] deficit surge implies the loss of nearly one million American jobs.”  Public Citizen said wherever there were free-trade agreements US trade deficits increased and in the countries not covered by free-trade agreements our deficits decreased.

Recently, Campaign for America’s Future revisited the US trade agreement with Mexico – NAFTA:

In 1993, the broadest assurance by those selling this model – including almost all Republicans and President Clinton – was that it would create U.S. jobs by expanding the trade surplus the U.S. then enjoyed with Mexico… Now the U.S. suffers chronic $60 billion-$70 billion annual trade deficits with Mexico and by this summer the accumulated U.S. current account losses with Mexico under NAFTA will pass $1 trillion.

The Economic Policy Institute says the US lost an estimated 700,000 jobs due to NAFTA.

4. If TPP were to be approved, most of the benefit would go to corporations and the rich.  Public Citizen reported, “the TPP would mean wage losses for all but the richest 10% of U.S. workers.”

5. There are a wide variety of serious issues that need to be discussed by Congress and the American public.

For example, the Washington Post reported

The United States is proposing a number of provisions designed to strengthen and extend brand-name pharmaceutical companies’ monopoly privileges. For example, several provisions would support the pharmaceutical firms’ practice of “ever-greening” in which a firm will hold a patent on drug ‘x’ in tablet form, then later obtain a patent on drug ‘x’ in a gel cap, and later still obtain another patent on the same drug in capsule form. This extends patent life on a known substance, despite no new medical efficacy; thus it delays generic competition.

As another example,

[TPP] includes provisions similar to those of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that the European Parliament ultimately rejected. The United States appears to be using the non-transparent Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations as a deliberate end run around Congress on intellectual property, to achieve a presumably unpopular set of policy goals.

The obvious first step is to ask Congress to deny the White House fast-track authority so that the Trans Pacific Partnership can be fully vetted and the public made aware of all the details of the labyrinthian agreement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fast track authority makes sense only... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    side pocket, Lawrence

    ...if we are debating something that is an absolutely black and white issue. You are either for it or you are not.

    With something as complex as international trade, I'm not at all comfortable with that; if I had a vote, and fast track was the rule, I'd vote no.

    This is an opportunity to actually have a public debate on the global economy and how it actually effects us as workers and consumers. This debate should not be about what the corporations want, it should be about all of us. Thumbs down to fast track.

    I'm not saying no to any treaty. I just want us to have a actual national discussion on it. This is our economy too.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 06:18:47 AM PST

  •  Fight (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irate, side pocket, unfangus, shaharazade

    Democrats in Congress need to fight tooth and nail to get this thing vetted so that every wart is exposed.

    I don't care that this is a big priority to the President. He is gone in 3 years, and the American people have to live with this long after he has left office.

    Someone has to stand up at some point for the little guy, and it is not going to be the Republican Party.

    We have taken one body blow after another in this country to further the economic interests of the 1% and corporations, and we don't have much left to take.

    I am disgusted that the President is even trying to do this, but if the rest of the party won't stand up to him what is there really left for us?

    This trade deal to me is almost to the level of those in Congress being with us or against us, and I hope to God Democrats of good faith on the Hill wake up and realize where they need to fall on that question when the vote comes around.

    Trying to hide the details of this bogus deal is beneath the President, and I suspect that 2007 candidate Obama would be ashamed if he knew what 2013 President Obama was trying to do to the American people.

  •  Thanks for this diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unfangus, shaharazade

    This trade agreement is one of the most important issues that 98% of Americans have never even heard of.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 06:51:37 AM PST

    •  Media (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, side pocket

      The Corporate owned media has put any talk of it on complete lock-down it seems.

      They have their marching order, and as long as people are in the dark about what it is it will be that much easier to ram through Congress.

      Nancy Pelosi one time joked about having to pass the bill to find out what's in it, and sadly it's looking like that is the fate of the TPP.

      Only I don't think Americans are going to take too kindly to a bill written by, of and for the continued enrichment of the 1% and multi-nationals.

  •  I wrote my dem Senator re these issues, his reply (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unfangus, shaharazade

    "thanks for your input but don't worry about it, TPPTA is really a good thing".  At least, that's my interpretation of his response. My senator is Tom Udall, staunch dem, meaning, don't be looking for help from senate democrats on backing off the fast track, or even shining light on the process.

  •  Only 5?? (0+ / 0-)

    Color me surprised

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 07:04:43 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the sober analysis of the potential (0+ / 0-)

    negatives with the TPP.  It'd be great to also see a sober analysis of the potential positives.

    I hope that lessons are learned from NAFTA and that nothing like the Chapter 11 secret court rulings are included in the TPP.

    And yeah, I also think that a fast-track is a bad idea.

    That being said, this is not NAFTA, where the U.S. was the biggest potential market.  Asia is a far greater market than Mexico and Canada combined could ever hope to be and it also could immediately have a blocking effect on China's low labor and environmental standard industries.

    I wouldn't really call the TPP a free trade agreement, as you did.  Here's why:

    What the TPP Implies

    The TPP stands out from many other trade talks. "Whereas previous trade agreements were about opening up borders, (the TPP) is moving inside them," says Zhang Yunling, director of the International Studies Division at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

    In other words, not only will the TPP be concerned about issues such as tariffs and quotas typically at the center of free trade agreements, but it also sets very high requirements for whole supply chains. The areas it addresses include labor conditions, governmental procurement, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property and environmental protection.

    It is more like an "upgraded" trade agreement and it will affect the core of a country's business model.

    http://english.caixin.com/...

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 07:30:51 AM PST

  •  It was my impression that opponents of TPP (0+ / 0-)

    emphasize that one of the dangers of the agreement is that it might include China in the future. And here you're saying it's a problem b/c it doesn't include China. Kinda strange. A good point on definition of 'domestic product'.

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