By Arthur Stamoulis of the Citizen’s Trade Campaign
Last Friday, the White House officially notified Congress that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would require waiving U.S. “Buy America” government purchasing preferences for goods and services from Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan and other Pacific Rim nations. This was no April Fool’s joke. If the TPP were enacted, the federal government would no longer be able to preference using taxpayer dollars to create jobs for American workers.
The TPP’s procurement chapter would require the federal government to treat foreign bidders for many government contracts as if there were from the United States, undermining one of the most important job-creation tools available. The United States — as well as governments abroad — should be able to use stimulus funds to create jobs within their borders, and not be required to send taxpayer funds overseas.
Last week’s notice officially acknowledges what we’ve known since the secretive TPP text was published in November: The TPP gives bidders from Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan and other TPP countries expansive access to U.S. goods, services and construction contracts, necessitating waivers from existing U.S. law.
Among the at least 93 specific procuring entities listed in the TPP are the U.S. Department of Transportation (in part), Department of Defense (in part), Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of State, Department of Agriculture (in part), Department of Homeland Security (in part), General Services Administration, The Smithsonian, Federal Prison Industries, Inc., Federal Reserve System, Federal Communications Commissions and the Tennessee Valley Authority (in part).
While the TPP does not cover state and local procurement contracts at this time, the TPP does require countries to “commence negotiations with a view to achieving expanded coverage, including sub-central coverage” within three years. This requirement could undermine popular “Buy Local” preference programs at the state and local level in the future.
Citizens Trade Campaign’s view on this matter is pretty simple: Trade agreements should not dictate how governments can and cannot spend taxpayer money.