Protesters Target D.C. Trade Negotiations
December 10, 2014
More than 100 fair trade activists gathered in front of the office of the United States Trade Representative Dec. 8 to demand the Obama administration release details about ongoing global negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Trade negotiators from more than a dozen Pacific Rim nations were in Washington, D.C. to advance the TPP – a free trade deal that critics say will drive down wages and working conditions and encourage more outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to low-paid developing nations.
“We’ve seen this movie before and it doesn’t have a happy ending,” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said at an emergency TPP meeting last week.
DeLauro compared it to NAFTA, the 1994 free trade bill. “NAFTA pitted good American jobs against Mexico’s $10-a-day wages. TPP puts us with Vietnam where we’re looking at a minimum wage that is more like 52 cents an hour.”
The TPP would govern trade between the United States and 12 other Pacific-rim nations: Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.
Critics, who include union and farm leaders, environmentalists, consumer advocates and many elected officials, say the TPP has been negotiated in secret without the input of members of Congress.
What we do know about the agreement comes from leaked internal documents. They reveal an agreement that prioritizes investor’s rights over workers’ rights, and gives multinational corporations the power to sue local and national governments over laws and regulations they feel eats into their profits.
“Relocated firms can skirt domestic laws and courts and bring their contract disputes and claims for regulatory compensation to such tribunals,” wrote director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch Lori Wallach.
Obama and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have called on Congress to give the president “fast-track” authority, leaving legislators with only the power to make an up-or-down vote on the final agreement.
“Congress must fully consider the impacts the TPP will have on working Americans,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) wrote in an email petition. “We cannot afford to rush through another NAFTA that values corporate profits above families.”
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