Oct 24, 2013
The Los Angeles Times recently published an op-ed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that focused on the administration's support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Today CWA President Larry Cohen and Sierra Club Executive Director responded, "While Kerry mentions the right buzzwords, lessons from past trade pacts show why we deserve more than empty promises."
"We need a full debate on TPP, not more empty promises. We cannot afford another NAFTA," they wrote in a letter to the editor. Read the full letter here.
Kerry's op-ed said that the TPP would "support American jobs," set "high labor and environmental standards," and protect "human rights." But here are the real facts:
- TPP Will Create American Jobs? That's What We Heard Re: Past Trade Deals: Secretary Kerry claims that the TPP would "support American jobs," yet similarly rosy projections regarding job growth have failed to materialize in past trade deals. A recent Economic Policy Institute analysis found that America experienced a net loss of 680,000 jobs to Mexico after NAFTA and over 40,000 jobs to Korea after passage of the U.S./Korea trade deal. The reality of these net job losses undermine the empty promises of American job creation made on behalf of those trade deals. As the study notes, "The TPP would significantly increase the threat that rapidly growing trade deficits and job losses in the United States would be locked in if the TPP is completed."
- Rewarding Labor & Human Rights Abusers: Secretary Kerry notes the importance of protecting human rights and setting high labor standards, yet the TPP also would reward bad actor countries such as Vietnam with trade benefits, instead of holding them accountable for their deplorable human and worker rights records as the U.S. has already done with Bangladesh. Vietnam was recently named by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of only three countries in the world that uses child labor in apparel manufacturing. Additionally, a report by Worker Rights Consortium titled "Made in Vietnam" described major human rights and working rights problems in the nation, such as forced labor and child labor; pregnancy and gender-based discrimination; health and safety hazards; excessive working hours and inadequate wages. Human Rights Watch has also testified that conditions have actually become worse since Vietnam entered into TPP negotiations.
- An Environmental Race to the Bottom: The TPP includes provisions that would enable corporations to challenge environmental, public health, and other public interest policies and regulations if they interfered with the corporation's "expected future profits" or that would pose a change to the corporation's "expectation of a stable regulatory environment." Such corporate-led challenges would take place in private tribunals that would circumvent the sovereignty of the U.S. judicial system.