Pacific Daily News (Guam) | Nov. 16, 2014
TPP deal not about trade, should be stopped
Written by Larry Cohen
We need to stop "fast track" and reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This deal is not about trade; it is about foreign policy and about protecting the profits of multinational corporations. Citizen rights are an afterthought, just as they have been in every trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement 20 years ago.
First, in trying to move the Vietnamese government a step closer to U.S. policy than to the Chinese, U.S. workers and consumers are exposed to a government that tramples the rights of its 90 million people, with a 28-cent hourly minimum wage and little protection for the rights of workers, the environment or public health.
U.S. companies and multinational corporations can’t wait to move our remaining manufacturing jobs to a nation where the government will protect multinational investment. Then, U.S. and other workers will be told to compete with wages half the rate of Mexico, Central America and China.
If any of the 12 and growing number of TPP nations improves worker rights or environmental protection, or legislates anything that threatens the profits of investors, a multinational corporation can sue that nation in a secret arbitration tribunal for any loss of future profits due to legislative action.
This is not science fiction. There are 500 such cases pending from 20 years of similar deals since NAFTA: Philip Morris suing Uruguay and Australia for warnings on cigarette packaging; transportation giant Veolia suing Egypt for raising its minimum wage; and Swedish energy giant Vattenfall suing Germany for limiting nuclear energy in the wake of Fukushima.
If fast track were enacted for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP deal itself would get only an up-or-down House and Senate vote, without amendment. And Congress would consider fast track before knowing the content of he Trans-Pacific Partnership. Our nation and voters, no matter our party identification, want open and transparent government.
We support fair trade for the 21st century, but it must balance our imports and exports, lead to job growth and protect our rights, not just those of the 1 percent.
Larry Cohen is president of the Communications Workers of America, which represents 700,000 workers in communications, airlines, public service and manufacturing.