The United States signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in February, but there’s still time to stop the deal that some are calling “NAFTA on steroids” before it becomes law. Signing is only one step: the next step is passage by Congress. In this election year, you can contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives to say a resounding NO to TPP. Here are four reasons to stop TPP, and links to contact information for Congress.
#1: TPP would allow corporations to sue to overturn “Buy American” rules of state or local governments. As the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition points out,
“if any of our national, state or local policies get in the way of corporations making a buck, trade deals that follow the NAFTA model allow us to be sued in international tribunals for having ‘barriers to trade.’”
#4: TPP rolls back environmental protections and allows corporations to sue to overturn environmental or food safety regulations. The Sierra Club says:
“The TPP will include provisions that give corporations the right to sue a government for unlimited cash compensation — in private and non-transparent tribunals — over nearly any law or policy that a corporation alleges will reduce its profits. Using similar rules in other free trade agreements, corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical have launched over 600 cases against more than 100 governments. Dozens of cases attack common-sense environmental laws and regulations, such as regulations to protect communities and the environment from harmful chemicals or mining practices.”
The rules in TPP, like those in NAFTA before it, give corporations power to “bypass domestic court systems and sue governments in private trade tribunals that lack transparency and public accountability.”
#3: TPP is bad for workers. Like other trade pacts, it promotes outsourcing manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries, in a “race to the bottom.” No trade agreement has effectively protected worker rights in low-wage countries, and TPP won’t do that either. Workday Minnesota warns that,
“The TPP’s labor standards are so abysmally weak that countries could literally set their minimum wage at $1/day and their maximum hours of work at 24/day and still be in compliance.”
#4: TPP endangers farmers. From the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:
“Multinational agribusiness companies wanted this deal. It provides them a framework to lower regulations and expand their market power in multiple countries,” said Karen Hansen-Kuhn of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “Unfortunately, the TPP is modeled after past free trade deals that have made wildly inaccurate promises about benefits for farmers. Instead, hundreds of thousands of farmers have been pushed of the land during this era of free trade, beginning with NAFTA.”
Congress will consider TPP under the Fast Track rules it passed last summer. As IATP explains,
“Under the U.S. Constitution, the President negotiates international agreements, but Congress sets the rules on commerce and taxes. Under Fast Track, which was first approved in 1974, Congress gives up its ability to influence trade agreements before they’re done and their right to amend the bill that states how the agreement will be implemented. Fast Track is granted for specific times and agreements. The Fast Track authority approved in June will apply to all trade agreements negotiated through July 1, 2018, with a possible extension into 2021.”
Support for TPP is eroding: both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton now oppose it, though Clinton praised TPP when she was Secretary of State. TPP would include twelve nations right off the bat, with the possibility of more being added in future years. The twelve nations — Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States — comprise “40 percent of the world economy and a third of global trade.”
My representative, Congressmember Betty McCollum, has spoken out eloquently and strongly on TPP:
“We’ve all seen the harm caused to American and foreign workers, human rights and the environment by NAFTA, CAFTA, and other trade agreements that benefit corporate profits over people – regular working people. Throughout my years in Congress I have a long record of standing with workers, defending human rights, and working to protect the environment … and opposing bad trade deals! I intend to remain consistent.
“As your member of Congress, my priority will always be to serve the best interests of my constituents – especially working families. Congressional oversight of trade deals is one of the best tools I have to ensure American workers are protected and treated fairly in the global marketplace. I intend to do all that I can to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and ensure that our nation’s trade practices put working men and women first.
“You can count on me to vote NO on TPP.”
Here’s a list of all the Minnesota members of Congress, with phone numbers and email links. Send an email. If you can’t figure out what to say, feel free to copy anything from this post. But speak up now, so that members of Congress know that their constituents want to count on them to vote NO on TPPP> .
For more information:
- News Day on TPP
- TPP moves one step closer with signing (Workday Minnesota, 2/4/2016)
- TPP released: Multinationals win, farmers, consumers and the environment lose (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,11/5/2015)
- How Investment Rules Threaten the Environment and Climate Protection (Sierra Club fact sheet (pdf), undated)
- Sierra Club TPP page
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy TPP page
- IATP Trade Secrets page
- Workday Minnesota TPP page
- Citizens Trade Campaign TPP page
- Free trade agreements jolt the economy, but not in a good way (Star Tribune op/ed, 6/9/2011)