The huge multinational trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is being thoroughly trashed in this year’s campaigning for president, leading some political observers to doubt it will ever be signed by Congress.
A news analysis by Ian Gustafson of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs reported that the U.S. has exerted “extraordinary influence” over the agreement. He declared:
“Though the TPP is presented as a disinterested effort to stimulate economic growth in the Pacific Rim, it serves to advance the world’s leading corporations. ”
President Obama is promoting the 12-nation trade agreement, signed last October. However, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate from Vermont, disagreed with his party leader. He noted what he calls the devastation of U.S. trade accords.
“Since 2001 we have lost 60,000 factories and five million decent-paying manufacturing jobs,” he reported.
“We must end our disastrous trade policies. You cannot pass a trade bill like TPP that sends jobs out of our country so that companies here can break unions, force down wages and trim benefits for already wealthy Wall Street executives and investors.”
Sanders cited other the miserable trade pacts: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and Permanent Normal Trades Relations (PNTR).
Obama put TPP on a “fast track” so the American people could not digest, debate and learn what commentators said about this “fast” scam.
Jim Hightower, a true populist in an age when every politician claims the mantle of populism, is blunt about TPP: “A cabal of global corporations and their friends in the Obama administration waged a wholesale assault on jobs, health, the environment and people’s sovereignty.”
Moreover, Hightower declares that the trade pact worked out in secret uses “wonkish, gibberistic jargon to mask a corporate boondoggle–the largest trade flimflam in history–negotiated by corporate lobbyists and government lawyers.”
The vital interests of the American people render secrecy anathema. Or, as economist Robert Reich put it:
“When corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy get special goodies, the rest of us get shafted. The TPP is being sold as a way to boost the U.S. economy, expand exports and contain China’s widening economic influence. In fact, it’s just more trickle-down economics.”
“Meanwhile, here’s the way the tragic deal works: Massachusetts-based New Balance is already struggling to make its athletic shoes profitable because of cheap imports. TPP removes tariffs from Vietnamese and Malaysian shoes, benefitting Nike and greatly undermining New Balance.”
The mainstream media usually dismiss trade accords as arcane stuff of little news value. The truth is otherwise. Doctors Without Borders declared that TPP “will go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries.” It predicts that half a billion people will be deprived of medicines if TPP takes effect. Yet Obama continues to push a loser.
Dean Baker, in a Truthout op-ed, observed that the real story of TTP is that “it has little to do with trade.”
“The United States already has trade deals with six of the 12 participating nations,” Baker pointed out. “Moreover, TPP puts into question every health, safety and environmental regulation in America.”
The opposition coalition of unions, environmentalist groups and public advocacy groups resisting global trade agreements is powerful. President Obama will have a tough time persuading Congress to back the pact.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)