Trans-Pacific Partnership Kills Already Ailing US Manufacturing, Say Labor Leaders

A briefing for labor a leaders about the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the “Fast Track” process was held Thursday, highlighting the astonishing and egregiously bad trade policies that could be implemented should the TPP pass.

The discussion, hosted by Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, included congresspeople, labor leaders, and environmental groups. United SteelWorkers' Leo Gerard spoke passionately against the new trade agreement, and railed against the inevitable job losses such a deal would incur:

In all the trade deals we’ve done since 1994, for those of you on the call from the press and friends in the political process, I think these are important numbers you should take a very close look at: in the period of time from 1994 to October 2013, America has accumulated an overall trade deficit of $8.3 trillion. And, if you subtract goods and services where we’ve been able to export certain services like accounting and stuff like that – that we have a slight surplus in – if you subtract that, the deficit in manufactured goods is over $10 trillion.

This should be the deficit that we’re looking at, rather than the one that keeps getting thrown up by some Democrats and rightwing Republicans.

And then if you go through this deal, before you look at this deal you have to look at all of the previous deals and ask “which one of these that we’ve done has resulted in net job gains and net trade surplus for America?” And you know what the answer is? None.

So in this deal, they’re looking at what are we going to do about state-owned enterprises that we’re supposed to compete with? We’ve got workers that can compete with any company, but they can’t compete with countries. What are they going to do about rules of origin? Put things in perspective: for example in NAFTA, to be country of origin you need 62.5% domestic content. The U.S.-Australia deal went 50%. The U.S.-South Korea deal went to 35%. Where will this one take us? We’re supposed to compete with countries that are getting their parts from China, Vietnam, Brunei, and exporting materials to here, when if they have 35% of material from their country they’re called ‘a domestic product’? That’s crazy.”

Later in the call Gerard said, “The politicians keep telling us the same song and dance that turns out not to be the truth. We’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs. The public gets it, and the politicians don’t.”

US workers have not yet found themselves a good, balanced trade deal that helps the country instead of just a few billionaires. In all of the trade deals we have made, the country has lost money and lost jobs.

These deals are not being negotiated in good faith, for the betterment of the country. They are being negotiated to help a few giant corporations and the billionaires who run them. The process leads to deals dramatically enriching the 1% while killing off the economic participation of the rest of the citizenry in their economy.

Current trade deals allow companies to move jobs and factories to countries with high corruption rates and low democratic participation. These countries have desperately low average wages and little if any environmental protection. Goods may cost less to produce, but this undermines our country and our democracy, while enriching the already rich few.

The complete audio recording of the call can be found here: http://www.conferenceplayback.com/stream/98120468/48264901.mp3

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