February 25, 2014
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.
First, it appears that mandatory, enforceable disciplines on currency manipulation will not be included. In fact, the Administration has indicated it is not seeking these provisions, despite strong bipartisan support from Congress.
Second, we have proposed that the Obama Administration use the TPP negotiations to strengthen, streamline, and clarify the labor and environmental provisions negotiated by Congress and the Bush Administration (the so-called “May 10” language). We have seen little indication from published reports and leaked text that this is a likely outcome. In fact, given the difficulty of completing these negotiations, 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.
We are disappointed by the lack of progress in including strong language disciplining State-Owned Enterprises, creating strong rules of origin and protecting Buy American programs.
The Administration is simultaneously pushing for “Fast Track” trade authority as these negotiations near conclusion. Given how far along the TPP negotiations are, “Fast Track” seems increasingly irrelevant, certainly in giving the administration “marching orders” or negotiating guidelines.
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.