By Wiha Powell
Since last year there have been whispers about a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Recently, President Obama negotiated a highly secretive free trade agreement with several other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Malaysia. All of these countries are currently a part of or agreeing to the partnership. If the President entered into such an agreement it would mean that the US along with several countries in the North, Central and South America would link with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. If such a partnership were to pass it will result in the largest free trade agreement in the history of the United States. Think of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) on steroids. This would essentially be catastrophic and devastating to both the US labor force and the environment.
As it exists, NAFTA was and still is bad news for the United States and its economy. Since going into effect in 1994, NAFTA has continued to threaten and destroy American jobs and have shown no signs of relenting. For example, prior to NAFTA the US had a trade surplus with Mexico, but after NAFTA, we fell to a trade deficit, resulting in the loss of millions of American jobs.
Like NAFTA, the countries that make up the TPP are all emerging markets, which scream cheap labor. This makes this partnership a dangerous partnership for American workers. We as a nation should be highly suspicious that the Obama Administration is negotiating or agreeing to this partnership behind closed doors, while barring Congressional members and staffers from viewing the full-negotiated text or to discussing the deal publicly.
Even though the President has not being shy about his support for TPP, this partnership could mean the bottom for both the US and
its working class in this tough economical time. What the President fails to see is that like NAFTA, TPP will be very beneficial for multinational corporations because the partnership will allow for a more open system for trading between the US and these developing nations. At the same time, outsourcing is likely to become a major problem in the future. In addition, it will promote cheap labor, while causing medication and other goods around the world to increase.
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Trade and Globalization Report, since going into effect in 1994 NAFTA has displaced 879,280 U.S. jobs, most of which were high wage manufacturing jobs. The report further stated that NAFTA also contributed to the rise in income inequality, suppressing the wages of production workers, weakening worker’s collective bargaining powers, the ability to organize unions and reducing fringe benefits. Being that TPP is very similar to NAFTA, the displacement of U.S. jobs is bound to triple and the gap in income inequality will widen.
Both NAFTA and TPP are disastrous and misguided agreements for the American labor force. The Obama Administration is putting the interest of multinational corporations before the interest of the American people. This agreement is a highway to outsourcing, and it opens the door for corporations to become more powerful than sovereign states. Since there is no public discussion or transparency of this agreement; if pass, the American people will make it known to the President that they will not give up their sovereignty for a trade agreement.