Congress considers TPP despite criticism

Joe Biden And Elizabeth Warren Address Good Jobs, Green Jobs ConferencePresident Obama visited Nike’s headquarters in Oregon on April 8 to speak about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The speech represents one of his most expansive defenses of the trade deal.

Obama has faced opposition from within his own party over TPP, and his speech at Nike addressed fellow Democrats about its potential benefits.

“I’ve run my last election,” Obama told reporters. “The only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for American workers and the American people and the American economy…on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong. They’re just wrong.”

If approved, the TPP would affect dozens of industries, products, and services, including the internet. According to The Toronto Star and The Huffington Post, the proposed agreement is between 12 countries with Pacific coasts, which together make up 40 percent of the global economic production.

The TPP is often compared to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics predicts a 0.4 percent increase in U.S. economic output in 10 years if TPP goes into action.

This increase is considered “significant,” but it is not enough to cause a dramatic, noticeable change.

In the past, trade agreements have been formed to eliminate taxes on imported goods, which are known as “tariffs” or “duties.”

The TPP will not be revealed in its entirety until it is signed, and the secrecy surrounding it has been a frequent target of criticism, particularly from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) also criticized TPP when she told The Huffington Postthat she wondered if the President was “the same guy” who was skeptical of NAFTA in 2008. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said of Obama’s remarks towards fellow Democrats,

“It may be a freebie, a throwaway line…Well, presidents can do that. But the bulk of the information buttresses everything that we have been saying, and that’s the ground on which we stand.”

Nike’s headquarters is widely considered a strange choice of venue to use to push TPP. Nike has long attracted criticism for its reliance on underpaid workers in Asia, particularly in Vietnam, which is one of the nations involved in TPP. Obama said TPP would force places like Vietnam to raise both wages and labor standards.

According to The Toronto Star, Nike has also promised to create as many as 10,000 jobs in the U.S. if TPP is approved.

Nike claims these jobs would be skilled positions in the engineering and manufacturing fields.

The president said TPP would “…open the doors to the higher-skill, higher-wage jobs of the future.”

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of International Organizations (AFL-CIO) expressed its skepticism on Twitter by saying, “Before NAFTA, major U.S. firms also promised to create jobs…Instead, they sent thousands offshore.”

Officials involved hint that the 12 nations are close to making a deal, but there have been “hints” like these since 2013.

Congress has not granted the president “fast-track authority,” which would allow him to make a permanent deal without their input.

Some nations involved say they will not agree to concessions if they know Congress can alter them later.

In addition, as reported by The Toronto Star, the United States and Japan, the two largest economies involved, still disagree over the American duty on auto parts and Japan’s “fortifications” around its rice market.

-Dionna Cheatham ’15, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor

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