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In US, Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Draws Fire


The Trans-Pacific Partnership recently reached by the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries has been in the works since 2008, and if approved by each country will cover 40 percent of the global economy.

But the deal is controversial in the United States, as opponents warn of job losses and other negative consequences. Those worries sparked numerous demonstrations in the United States.

The Partnership Ministers (negotiators) statement says “we have come to an agreement that will support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development, and promote innovation across the Asia-Pacific region.”

The statement adds “we expect this historic agreement to promote economic growth, support higher-paying jobs, enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness, raise living standards, reduce poverty in our countries and to promote transparency, good governance, and strong labor and environmental protections.”

TPP opponents say the deal means disputes between businesses and governments can be resolved by arbitrators, a process they contend gives too much power to unelected officials.

That provision drew the ire of New York University professor and former IBM official Ralph Gomory. Gomory told Voice of America this provision of a three-person panel to decide any controversy that might arise “is not a democratic process.” He says “it’s a process of a few people who are appointed and make a judgment.”

Gomory says that is what “all these so-called trade treaties are now setting up.” Gomory cited an example of one product, meat. “We have laws,” he said, “which allowed us to label meat by country of origin. We’d say this meat comes from Mexico.

One of these panels said ‘nope, can’t do that anymore,’ and Congress had to follow through. They are repealing these country of origin labels. So we’ll no longer know where our meat comes from even though the mass of people want that information.”

New York Stock Exchange trader, Peter Costa says, “I think it favors smaller trading partners, other trading partners on the Rim, and I think the U.S., like usual, is signing a contract we may not benefit from totally.” Costa cited the Japanese as one of the countries that has major financial institutions that will truly benefit from the agreement.

“It just seems that we usually get the short end of the stick,” referring to the United States in treaty agreements. Costa added, "We abide by, or at least try to abide by, the terms of these agreements and we have competitors that try to take advantage of every loophole, and that becomes a problem.”

But Peter Cardillo, managing director of Rockwell Global New York, told VOA he believes it is a good deal.

“You know like every treaty it has its ups and downs, and of course it has its plusses and minuses. And there are those who are going to try to fight it because they’re going to think that jobs are going to go abroad and there are those who are going to think, well, no, it’s really going to be good for the economy,” Cardillo said.

Trader Costa gave us his bottom line, “I think the other governments will ratify it very quickly, and I think the U.S. might have some difficulty ratifying it. But in the end, it will more than likely pass.”

The U.S. process for approving the TPP is very complex. The steps include making the lengthy text public and the president informing Congress he plans to sign the overall deal. Congress and the administration must also work out the legal and practical details of implementing the agreement, which is likely to be a controversial process.

If and when the implementing legislation is crafted, then Congress can vote to approve or disapprove the deal, but can’t change or amend it.

The TPP countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.

The deal includes consumer and manufacturing goods, intellectual property, Internet/electronic commerce rules, promoting international labor rights, especially eliminating child labor, environmental issues and the protection of human, animal or plant life or health. Discussions leading to the agreement began in 2008.

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