Sunday, July 14, 2013

Growing congressional criticism exposes weakness of TPP

Nearly 170 members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined the growing chorus of those concerned about a proposed Pacific Rim trade deal that could place American workers and consumers at risk.

The bipartisan collection of lawmakers called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to support strong textile protections for U.S. firms as part of the ongoing negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and want to make sure safeguards are included in any proposed deal.

House members are particularly wary of the Vietnamese government's stance regarding textile negotiations. This comes on top of reports raised by labor groups about the nation's lack of fair wages, workplace protections as well as human rights violations. The letter sent to Froman said Vietnam wants a new rule that would let it buy textiles from China. Then it could export finished garments to the U.S., duty free. According to the letter,
A recent study concluded that if adopted as part of the TPP, this rule would cost more than 500,000 U.S. textile and related jobs and put more than 1.5 million jobs in the textile and apparel supply chains in the Western Hemisphere and Africa in jeopardy.
The growing issues surrounding the TPP are only a part of the criticisms arising across several continents. The first round of negotiations for the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) end in Washington today. Increasingly, critics in the U.S. and Europe are taking the proposed pact to task. They worry consumers will be hurt by a watering down of laws that control everything from food to chemicals.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is shining a light on one deal that has already been approved. She noted that the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea has soared since a trade agreement between the two countries went into effect last year. That undoubtedly is costing good American jobs.

All of this brings it back to the problems with such agreements. Too often they are not fair. No one doubts the value of trade, but not if it puts American workers at a disadvantage and American consumers at risk.

Stay tuned...