|Hundreds of protestors gather at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in Washington, DC, as negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership meet to advance the harmful free trade agreement.|
A blustery and cold day in Washington, DC wasn’t enough to keep hundreds of labor, environmental and consumer advocates from protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, or TPP, on the steps of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
As delegates from Pacific Rim countries were working to advance the secretly-negotiated free trade deal inside, protesters held signs like “TPP = Polluters’ Bill of Rights” and “Fair Trade, Not Free Trade.” They made a lap around the building, chanting appeals aimed at negotiators just a few stories up.
Congress is currently considering “Fast Track Trade Authority” for the TPP, which would only allow for a yes or no vote on the highly-flawed free trade pact. It would prevent members of Congress from offering any amendments to change provisions that hurt U.S. workers.
Leaks from the secret negotiations show that the TPP would be a massive power grab for Big Business. Corporations would be able to sue governments for worker safety, environmental and other regulations that infringe upon their profits. Like the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, it threatens to offshore hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs to countries with lower wages.
“President’s from both parties from Clinton through Obama have sold free trade agreements on the basis of export growth,” writes Robert E. Scott, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research for the Economic Policy Institute. “But free trade agreements impact a lot more than exports – they increase imports and encourage outsourcing, which means fewer American jobs.”
Some lawmakers from both parties have said they would not support “fast track” authority to complete the TPP negotiations, but the White House continues to push for quick approval of the pact.