December 2015 Brief: Volume 22, Number 36
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Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Our National Interest?
by John Hendrickson
The United States Congress, after granting President Barack Obama fast-track trade authority, will be debating the merits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP is a large free-trade agreement with several countries in the Pacific (Asia) region. The text of the agreement is very complicated, and it is “5,554 pages long, twice that of Obamacare, and nearly three feet high.” The debate over TPP has created internal divisions within both the Republican and Democrat parties. Supporters of TPP argue that it will provide opportunities for new markets for American products resulting in economic growth and at the same time allow the United States to be a regional player in Asia. Opponents of TPP argue that the agreement will only result in further loss of manufacturing jobs, continuing loss of sovereignty, and further harm to the already suffering middle-class.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who is a leading critic of TPP and granting fast-track authority to President Obama described the TPP agreement:
Kevin L. Kearns, who serves as President of the United States Business and Industry Council, argues that “the TPP is anything but the free trade agreement it purports to be.” As Kearns further explains:
Another concern raised by Senator Sessions is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, which will serve as a governing body over the agreement:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission would undermine American sovereignty and constitutional government, because if TPP is approved, Congress will be surrendering part of their enumerated powers to regulate foreign commerce by providing that power to this un-elected commission, which most likely will not benefit our national interests. “These 5,554 pages are like the Lilliputians binding down Gulliver. They will enmesh our great country, and economy, in a global commission where bureaucrats from Brunei have the same vote as the United States,” stated Senator Sessions.
Advocates for the TPP also argue that unless this trade agreement is approved, the United States will lose influence in the Pacific region to China, and that China will be writing the trade rules. A serious question exists about whether or not the rules of TPP will allow China to eventually become a member or enter through a “back door.” In addition the TPP agreement does little to address the issue of currency manipulation. As Kearns states:
“Because this deal lacks currency protections, it will further the bleeding of U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas, allowing our mercantilist trading partners to take advantage of our continued refusal to protect our own workers,” stated Senator Sessions.
Since the year 2000 the United States “has lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs and 57,000 factories.” These losses, along with the continual trade deficits, have translated into a hollowing out of manufacturing. This is dangerous not only for the economic health of the nation, but also for national security.
It is far too clear that the TPP agreement raises some fundamental questions whether this agreement is in our best national interest and whether or not it is wise to cede more sovereignty to another global governing authority.
John Hendrickson is a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute, Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Contact him at Public.Interest.Institute@LimitedGovernment.org.
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