Scott Paul leads #GJGJ2014 panel on the TPP

Posted by mmcmullan on 02/12/2014

We got up early on Tuesday morning, because Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul was hosting a panel of leaders and experts from the environmental and labor communities. Lookit, we’ve got a picture of them right here:

No sweat if you were still crashed out; we went and took some notes as the panel shed some light on the contours of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The TPP signatories hope to wrap negotiations this year and the Obama administration is doing its part to that end, cajoling Congress to grant it “fast track” trade promotion authority (TPA). TPA would allow the White House to present a fully negotiated TPP to Capitol Hill for a strict up-or-down vote. No amendments allowed. Floor debate limited.

Alphabet soup, right?

“You hear a lot of (trade-related) abbreviations,” said Paul from the dais. “Well, we’re going to tell you why it’s a BFD.”

Yessir, a BFD

While AAM has often noted its reservations about a trade agreement that would grant more market access to countries that manipulate their currencies to boost their trade balances (as have majorities in both chambers of Congress, among others), that’s not the only concern out there. The environmental community has a litany of beefs with the TPP, many of which overlap with those of open-government advocates. One in particular stood out.

“A part of the agreement allows a corporation to sue our government directly over anything the company alleges reduces its profits,” noted panelist Ilana Solomon, a trade representative with the Sierra Club.

That concern was seconded by Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the National Resource Defense Council. “When investors are allowed to sue states, bad things are going to happen,” he said. “We know this already from NAFTA.”

Meanwhile, there is scant evidence of language codifying worker rights that would correspond to that for investments are (specifically protected) and tariff reductions (virtually guaranteed), said Elizabeth Drake, a trade attorney with Stewart & Stewart.

In other words businesses are guaranteed their mobility, domestic laws governing natural resources (or anything else) can be challenged by foreign companies seeking financial redress.

So ... What’s the takeaway for those who think this TPP deal is a colossal hose job for working Americans?

Oppose fast track, urged panelist George Kohl of the Communication Workers of America.

Call your representative to let them know how you feel about the TPP, said Solomon.

And, said Slesinger:

We don’t need a free trade agreement with enforceable provisions for environmental and labor protections, or for human rights. We need a fair trade agreement. A fair trade agreement would already have those provisions in it.

Click here and make sure your congressional representative opposes a TPP agreement without a rule barring currency manipulation.

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