Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP): Is Free Trade – Fair Trade?
Grassroots community groups from Westchester and CWA Local 1103 hosted a People’s Town Hall recently to discuss the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement under review in Washington, DC.
The TPP would create a trade partnership between the United States and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and would eliminate most tariffs on more than $2 trillion in goods and services between these 12 countries.
President Barrack Obama’s recent trip to Asia included meetings to finalize a TPP agreement abroad. Arguments in favor of the partnership focus on the economic activity that would be created in the U.S., with estimates that TPP will boost real income by 0.4 percent and will open barriers for American businesses, and help boost revenue for a variety of industries, including intellectual property and high-tech industries.
If approved, the TPP will include 38 percent of the global economy, all open to U.S. companies and businesses to trade freely. Proponents also say the agreement could generate an additional $123.5 billion in American exports by 2025.
Arguments against TPP focus not only on the lost American jobs that will come from TPP and from prior free-trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, but also on environmental concerns, food safety concerns, an increase in the lack of regulation and accountability for corporations from TPP, and the “secrecy” in which the TPP is being reviewed.
Obama is requesting that TPP be placed on “Fast Track” legislation, which would prevent members of Congress from amending it, and would require a “yes” or “no” vote.
The terms of TPP are unknown, members of the media and the public are not entitled to review it, and while members of Congress can review TPP, they cannot share the details with the public.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, one of several Westchester elected officials at the People’s Town Hall in Greenburgh recently, stated her concerns about the partnership.
“Trade, when done right, has the potential to grow our economy and create jobs,” she said. “I will only support trade agreements that create jobs here, while protecting our economy and job standards, and strengthen our national security .Good trade agreements will create jobs for all sectors of our economy and raise the bar for labor and environmental standards.”
A community panel, featuring members of Concerned Families of Westchester, Food and Water Watch, the Hudson River Presbytery, Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the Sierra Club, Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body and WESPAC discussed the impact of the TPP on local jobs, the environment, food safety, health care and democracy. Nationwide, more than 400 grassroots organizations have called for public involvement and a rejection of “Fast Track” legislation.
In the global economy, the big loser in the TPP will be China, which is not included in partnership, as its neighbors and trading partners will be drawn closer to the U.S. economy in what has been dubbed Obama’s “pivot” to Asia. Estimates have 2.7 million U.S. jobs lost when China was included in the World Trade Organization; 700,000 jobs lost to Mexico through NAFTA; and 40,000 American jobs lost from the Korean Free Trade Agreement in one year.
The U.S. trade deficit has risen from $42 billion in 1992 to $431 billion in 2012, when adjusted for inflation.
These facts were presented by several speakers at the forum, and raise a legitimate question, which we hope to discuss in the future: Have trade agreements helped or hurt the U.S. economy and jobs in America? Can we bring these jobs back home? And is free trade fair trade for America?
The answers to these questions are the goal of Westchester resident and business owner Frank Spotorno, whose website www.bringourjobshome.com will focus on this critical issue and the actions of U.S. corporations and elected officials, and their votes and actions on jobs here and abroad.
For more information on the opposition to TPP visit www.stopthetpp.org.