After four days of talks among the 12 nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade and investment agreement, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that significant progress has been made. Said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
We are troubled by today’s announcement that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment talks are nearing completion, as working families have raised many concerns about this trade deal. As the administration moves quickly to finalize the still-secret text of the TPP agreement, we are deeply concerned that in key areas this agreement is on track to mirror problematic or inadequate provisions in previous trade deals.
Trumka outlined several concerns, including lack of enforceable disciplines on currency manipulation, and clarification of labor and environmental provisions previously negotiated by Congress and the Bush administration. Said Trumka:
There is a significant risk that both the labor and environmental provisions, as well as their enforcement mechanisms, could be weakened in the final language. We urge our government to press for strengthening these provisions, and under no circumstances to weaken or dilute them.
Trumka noted the lack of progress in including strong language disciplining State-Owned Enterprises, creating strong rules of origin and protecting Buy American programs. He also criticized the Obama administration’s continued effort to have the TPP agreement considered under Fast Track rules in Congress.
Under the Fast Track process, Congress can only vote yes or no on the full agreement. It cannot amend or improve the bill. Click here to sign the petition to Congress to stop the legislation (H.R. 3830/S. 1900) that would give Fast Track trade authority approval for all major trade agreements over the next four years, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
Trumka said, “America’s workers don’t oppose trade—but we are entitled to know that the rules of the TPP aren’t rigged against workers, communities, family farms and small businesses.”
Unfortunately, as the TPP marches toward conclusion with minimal public scrutiny, it looks less and less likely that it’s going to be a fair deal for workers.
If you haven’t signed a letter for a better TPP, do it here.