President Obama used Tuesday’s State of the Union address to call for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal during the last year of his administration. Advocates of fair trade say they will continue their efforts to fight the TPP.
“There were a lot of excellent ideas in the President’s final State of the Union address, but the idea that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will help our economy wasn’t one of them,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of the Citizens Trade Campaign, a coalition of community, labor, farm and environmental groups.
The 12-nation pact would set binding rules governing approximately 40 percent of the global economy. The United States formally entered into negotiations on the deal in February 2008 and announced in October that an agreement had been reached.
Opponents say claims that the TPP would create jobs and improve conditions in the United States and other countries are false.
The Citizens Trade Campaign calls the deal “a dangerous pact that would force U.S. employers into deeper competition with corporations exploiting people in countries like Vietnam, where workers are often paid less than 65 cents an hour.”
A recent study by researchers at Tufts University concluded that the TPP would actually reduce U.S. economic growth over its first decade and cost nearly half-a-million U.S. jobs.
Concerns also have been raised by medical professionals about the ability of pharmaceutical companies to extend patents and put life-saving medications out of reach for many people.
Under “fast track” legislation approved by Congress, lawmakers are barred from making any changes to the deal negotiated by the Obama administration in coordination with hundreds of corporate lobbyists.
Last week, the Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobbies formally launched their campaigns to get the TPP passed early this year.
The Citizens Trade Campaign has mounted an online petition, through which people can contact their members of Congress to urge opposition to the TPP. For more information and to access the petition, see the Citizens Trade website.