Friday, August 2, 2013

Global TPP fears are on the rise

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is raising concerns not only in the U.S., but increasingly abroad as well. The reason is a familiar one to working Americans who have sounded the alarm about the potential trade pact -- jobs.

At a public hearing held today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to discuss the TPP, attendees raised fears that the “free trade” agreement was just an attempt by the U.S. to dominate the economies of the 11 other nations currently negotiating the agreement.  They worried that smaller businesses would be stamped out and many jobs lost.
That message was not lost on the nation’s leaders. Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohammad, Malaysia’s international trade minister, said the negative mood was apparent:
I respect it because the reason we are doing this is to listen, and to be a good listener, we have to respect people’s views. I recognize that a lot more will have to be done to engage the public on TPPA.
It’s just the latest example of a growing movement against the Pacific Rim trade deal in that country. Last month, Tun Dr Mahathir,Malaysia’s former prime minister, voiced his opposition to the TPP, calling it:
A partnership of the unequal, of the strong to take advantage of the weak.
Malaysians are not alone in that belief. Earlier this year, Chile’s former chief TPP negotiator also called out the trade pact, describing it as a threat to all involved nations. He said it would limit options when it came to health and education developments, as well as biological and cultural diversity. He also said nations’ economic and policy decision-making would be curtailed as well.

Growing pessimism, however, doesn’t seem to be stalling efforts to move forward with finalizing the TPP. The 12 involved nations have set four deadlines for reaching a consensus on eliminating tariffs and want to have a basic agreement in place by the end of October. It is expected that bilateral negotiations will be wrapped up by Sept. 20. The next round of talks is set to begin Aug. 22 in Brunei.
The clock is ticking on this agreement. Workers across the globe are waking up to the reality that this deal is a loser for them but a major coup for corporations. Now it’s time to let elected officials know we are onto the game.

Here in the U.S., we’ve seen this before with such deals as NAFTA. No one is against trade, just unfair trade. It’s time to stop letting big corporations ship our jobs overseas and dump our wages and benefits overboard along the way.
The first step is to convince Congress that approving an up-or-down vote on the TPP with no chance to alter the deal and limited debate is a net loser. Lawmakers will likely take up the issue soon after returning to Washington next month.

Congress, the ball's in your court. Don't drop it.