Ahead of New Round of TPP Negotiations, Americans Speak Out Against Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

Compiled by Communications Workers of America:

Washington, DC – With a new round of negotiations over the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) set to begin Thursday in Brunei, a number of voices are speaking out here at home against the negative toll the TPP would inflict on a broad range of American issues and concerns.

  • Anti-Smoking Groups Oppose TPP’s Role in Expanding Tobacco Markets Overseas:  The Washington Post highlights that, the U.S. is pushing to help tobacco companies find new customers overseas, by allowing them easier access to developing countries in Asia through a sweeping trade deal that would make it more difficult for countries to pass the kinds of laws that reduced smoking in the U.S.” In response, leading public health and anti-tobacco organizations the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement opposing this development.  As The Hillreported, the letter noted, “The new USTR proposal does not recognize tobacco as a uniquely harmful product or provide a safe harbor for nations to regulate in order to reduce tobacco use, as the initial proposal would have done.” The organization Action on Smoking & Health issued a statement in response, titled “Obama Goes to Bat for Big Tobacco in TPP.”
  • U.S. Domestic Sugar Industry Speaks Out Against TPPPolitico reports in a story titled, “Sugar Could Hold Up Trade Deal,” that “opposition from domestic lobbies like the powerful U.S. sugar industry” is a potential obstacle to the TPP moving forward.  As Don Phillips, a trade adviser for the American Sugar Alliance, said, “It just doesn’t make sense to make additional market access commitments on sugar. The domestic industry produces 8 million tons of sugar per year, and the United States already imports as much as 2 million tons annually from Mexico. That’s enough of a supplement.”
  • Opponents of TPP Rally in MinneapolisWorkday Minnesota: “Hundreds of labor, fair trade, environmental and community activists marched through downtown Minneapolis Tuesday to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal that could jeopardize American jobs, wages, consumer safety, health care and environmental standards.” Reporting on the rally, the St. Paul Union Advocate wrote, “Union leaders fear the TPP, like NAFTA and other trade agreements before it, will make it easier for multinational corporations to offshore U.S. jobs to countries with lower wages and fewer environmental and safety regulations – especially since it is being negotiated with more corporate input than public oversight.”
  • Anti-TPP Rally in Wisconsin & Attention to Digital Rights & Privacy Concerns in TPP: The Wisconsin Reporter writes that “President Obama has long relied on the seemingly unshakable support of organized labor. But the fissures in that constituency are starting to show, perhaps no more clearly than in Obama’s peddling of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a so-called free-trade agreement the union movement calls ‘NAFTA on steroids.’  More than 100 demonstrators, mostly from organized labor, rallied Saturday on the steps of the statehouse in Madison to protest the TPP, in negotiation between representatives from the United States and 11 other countries, mainly in Southeast Asia.” The article also highlights how the TPP could harm digital rights and privacy online, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF).  The article highlights the EFF’s assessment, that the TPP “will require signatory countries to adopt heightened copyright protection that advances the agenda of the U.S. entertainment and pharmaceutical industries agendas, but omits the flexibilities and exceptions that protect Internet users and technology innovators.”
  • CWA President Larry Cohen in Huffington Post: “Working Families Need Fair Trade, Not Free Trade”: President Cohen of CWA writes, “we still have a chance to make sure that this trade deal reflects the concerns of all of us, not just wealthy corporations looking for the lowest wages and costs they can find. Congress must put the brakes on TPP by stopping or changing the ‘fast track’ process, which provides for an up-or-down vote only, with no amendments, on trade deals…The TPP would result in even greater income inequality in the U.S. and would worsen the race-to-the-bottom labor and wage standards that too many corporations are chasing, from the Middle East to Vietnam.”
  • Human Rights & Worker Rights Groups Call for Suspension of TPP Negotiations with Vietnam: Vietnam, a TPP partner,was recently named by the Department of Labor as one of only three countries to use child labor in apparel manufacturing. Additionally, a report by Worker Rights Consortium titled “Made in Vietnam” described major human rights and working rights problems, such as forced labor and child labor; pregnancy and gender-based discrimination; health and safety hazards; excessive working hours and inadequate wages. The report also stated that advocating for labor rights in Vietnam is more difficult than in China. As a result of Vietnam’s abhorrent record, a coalition of labor and human rights leaders recently called on the TPP negotiations with Vietnam to be suspended until it actually meets basic international standards for human and labor rights.

Despite the Obama Administration’s hope that Congress will move the TPP forward later this year using “fast-track” authority, such an action would bypass the important oversight role of Congress.  Despite its size and complexity, the TPP negotiations and the trade pact itself lack the transparency the public deserves and Congress should require to move it forward.

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