Obama praises Trans-Pacific Partnership. Bernie Sanders calls it a disaster that he’ll work to defeat
In a major victory for President Obama, negotiators for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership announced Monday that an agreement has been reached after eight years of talks. If approved by those nations, the agreement will lower trade barriers and commercial regulations for 40 percent of the world’s nations.
While the president and other backers say the deal, the largest since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1993, will be a boon to American workers, a large percentage of Democrats in Congress, labor unions and some environmental organizations, say calling TPP a “free trade” deal is propaganda that conceals harmful elements. Key provisions relate to investment, including intellectual property rights.
And while Obama has said TPP is the most progressive trade agreement in history, Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, says otherwise. Among its flaws, he says, are restrictions on low-cost medicines in developing nations, unfair competition from the Japanese auto industry and an extension of a system of arbitration outside normal legal channels that gives special status to corporations that feel they have been unfairly treated by the nations that sign the TPP.
In a statement Monday, Obama said:
When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment. […]This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products. It includes the strongest commitments on labor and the environment of any trade agreement in history, and those commitments are enforceable, unlike in past agreements. It promotes a free and open Internet. It strengthens our strategic relationships with our partners and allies in a region that will be vital to the 21st century. It’s an agreement that puts American workers first and will help middle-class families get ahead.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a different view. Soon after the deal was announced, he said he would oppose it. . And you can join in petitioning your representatives in Congress to reject the TPP.
I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”Mr. Sanders said he would do all he can to defeat the agreement.
“This agreement follows failed trade deals with Mexico, China and other low-wage countries that have cost millions of jobs and shuttered tens of thousands of factories across the United States,” he said. “We need trade policies that benefit American workers and consumers, not just the CEOs of large multi-national corporations.”
Hillary Clinton, the front-runner in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, promoted the trade talks, but she’s edged away from support for TPP recently, saying she will have to see the final wording before taking a stand for or against the final agreement.
The final text of the 30-chapter agreement probably won’t be available until late this month or early November. Once it’s debated, Congress, which earlier this year gave the president trade promotion authority—fast-tracking TPP and other trade agreements—will vote the agreement up or down but will not be allowed to introduce any amendments.
(Originally appeared at DailyKos. Image AFGE-CC.)