The TPP: Free Trade Run Amok

Despite an alarmingly low public profile, the latest global free trade agreement (FTA) known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continues to make progress with advocates pressing for congressional approval by the end of the summer.

The TPP would be an agreement among the U.S. and the eight Pacific Rim nations of Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  Every Pacific Rim nation – including, notably, Japan, China, Russia, Indonesia, Canada and Mexico – could eventually be included. 

In a compelling article published in the Huffington Post, Leo Hindery, Jr., cuts to the heart of the matter and asks the question about the TPP that should be coming from our elected representatives: Is it in the best interests of American workers and the U.S. economy? 

Describing it as the “mother of all FTAs,” Hindery warns that if advanced, the TPP could very likely dwarf the negative impacts from all prior FTAs combined, including the still notorious multilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the multilateral Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). 

Among the very real concerns raised by Hindery are that the TPP as currently proposed fails to address consumer safety, environmental and labor concerns while allowing for even more extreme financial industry deregulation. The TPP would also ban “Buy American” protections, giving all companies operating in any signatory country equal access to U.S. government procurement contracts (even though none of these other government’s procurement comes even close to matching ours in amount).

While applauding the Obama Administration for seeking a comprehensive 21st-century U.S. trade policy, Hindery warns that despite promises of job and net exports growth from advocates of all 11 previous FTAs, all have failed to deliver.  

“What the Obama administration should be doing, rather than rushing pell-mell into TPP, with its own extreme mix of economic maturity and exports, is acknowledging the near impossibility of negotiating complex multilateral trade agreements that prove fair to American workers,” said Hindery.