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Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00

Pacific trade pact would do more harm than good: Guest opinion

Written by  Madelyn Elder | Oregonian Live

If government and big business representatives from 12 countries spend years negotiating a massive new trade bill but don't tell the general public about it, does it still go into effect? Can it still accelerate the flow of American jobs to countries that have abysmal records on human rights and labor rights, countries like Vietnam? Can it still spur a race to the bottom where Americans forfeit their moral, environmental and employment standards for larger trade deficits of cheap imported goods and minimum wage employment at home?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

After 19 rounds of negotiations between the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is still a mystery to everyone who does not make a living as a government or multinational corporate trade negotiator. That is because much about these negotiations have been kept intentionally under wraps. Incredibly, the text for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) hasn't even been officially released.

But leaks have given some idea of what is being discussed and it is troubling. Only five of the TPP's 29 chapters actually deal with trade issues while the others set policies that the U.S. government, from the local city council all the way to Congress, would be required to conform to, a direct attack on our national sovereignty. A leading principle of our nation's laws is they are not subject to review by non-American institutions and observers. We don't cede American power to a higher authority. Yet the details in the leaked "Investment Chapter" make clear that this trade pact would undermine this bedrock American belief.

TPP is a way for big businesses to carve out for themselves special favors across the Pacific, related to the regulation of energy and other services, financial regulation, food safety, procurement policy, patents and copyright policy, environmental standards and other non-trade issues. It will be a direct attack on our milling jobs as our logged forests will be sent directly overseas instead of being process here. It will attack our area's call center workers by giving companies a greater financial incentive to send these jobs overseas.

Despite these concerns and the complete lack of transparency throughout the process, the TPP's backers want to "fast track" this agreement and prevent members of Congress from amending or changing any single provision. Given that the only voices shaping the TPP are government negotiators and corporate lobbyists, Congress should do the job we pay them to do and debate this mammoth trade bill openly through the normal process.

With all of this in mind, it's clear that every American should confront TPP with a resounding "no." That's why it is crucial that our lawmakers in Congress need to take a clear stand for Oregon jobs and say they will take a full look at this trade pact.

It is time for Congress to exercise its authority and reject the fast tracking of TPP.

Link to original article from The Oregonian

Read 1995 times Last modified on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 03:14

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