Lipinski: I Have My Doubts on Trade Deal
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the largest trade deal in history, covering 40 percent of global trade. After viewing the small part of the text of the TPP that was made available to members of Congress earlier this year, I was skeptical. Now that the entire agreement has been released, it demands very close scrutiny.
The approval of Fast Track legislation in June greatly diminished the role of Congress in the trade process at the expense of increased executive power. Now I will only be able to represent the hard-working people and countless small businesses and manufacturing firms of my district with a single "yes" or "no" on TPP.
I would like to believe that TPP will lead to more exports and jobs for the American people. But history shows that big trade agreements — from NAFTA to the Korea Free Trade Agreement — have resulted in fewer American jobs, lower wages and a bigger trade deficit. The Obama administration promised that the Korea Free Trade Agreement would produce 70,000 new jobs and soaring exports. But since it was implemented in 2012, this agreement has resulted in the loss of 60,000 American jobs and a 25 percent increase in the manufactured goods trade deficit with South Korea.
One of my biggest concerns with the agreement is that the administration said that it would not address the unfair practice of currency manipulation. Currency manipulation occurs when a country interferes in the world market to keep the value of its currency at an artificially low level against the U.S. dollar. This makes American products too expensive to sell in that country and makes their exports artificially cheap abroad. This is a major driver of our enormous trade deficit and is practiced by a number of TPP countries.
Another concern I have with TPP is that it undermines our own efforts in the U.S. to protect the environment through an expansion of the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement program. TPP replicates similar language from past trade agreements that has allowed foreign corporations the right to challenge U.S. federal, state and local laws outside of American courts.
These tribunals will not meet our high standard of transparency and due process, and they will rely on weak impartiality rules for selecting judges. We should not allow a trade treaty to take precedence over our own laws and regulations.
The inclusion of countries with serious human rights issues as parties to the pact is yet another significant concern. U.S. law does not allow countries that are placed in the lowest tier of human trafficking compliance to be included in trade agreements that are fast-tracked. On July 27, the State Department suddenly raised Malaysia out of that lowest tier, even in the face of a humanitarian crisis in which mass graves have been discovered.
The appearance, if not the fact, of turning a blind eye to a country's human rights abuses in order to secure passage of a trade agreement greatly undermines our credibility on human rights, as well as the agreement itself.
For TPP to get my vote, it must benefit America's middle class, raise wages and safeguard the consumer and environmental protections that we rely upon. If, after close review, it turns out that TPP is just a new NAFTA or Korea Free Trade Agreement, I will work all-out to defeat it.
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