Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

December 11, 2012

This ‘fair’ trade agreement has nothing to do with fair trade

Right now, in a posh casino in Auckland, New Zealand, U.S. negotiators are working behind closed doors on a massive trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

It includes 11 countries but would be open for China and Russia to join later. It’s been branded a “free trade agreement,” but nothing about it involves “fair trade.” In fact, only five of its 29 chapters have anything to do with trade.

Most of the developing agreement is a grab by multinational corporations for even more control over our freedom.

The agreement would permit corporations to offshore jobs (something we need more of, don’t you think?), impose limits on bank regulation (and that after what virtually unregulated banks did to our economy over the last decade), and even ban the Buy American procurement preferences that reinvest our tax dollars locally to create jobs here.

All good stuff, eh? But wait. There’s more. The TPP would also require us to import food that does not meet U.S. safety standards. Do you really want to eat food such food?

This treaty has no expiration date. And these new rules would be strongly enforced through international tribunals empowered to impose trade sanctions and cash fines.

None of us would have any say in who makes up these tribunals. Nameless functionaries would have enormous power over our country.

The public and Congress know little about what U.S. negotiators are proposing in our names, but recent text leaks reveal the TPP would allow foreign corporations to attack U.S. land-use, health and safety laws, and even demand taxpayer compensation.

In other words, we could end up paying for safety regulations that protect all U.S. citizens.

 I, for one, would appreciate more coverage of TPP in the Cumberland Times-News.

The good news? Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has introduced the 21st Century Trade Agreements Act to stop trade agreements, which put foreign corporations before the American people.

During this lame duck session of Congress, our senators should co-sponsor that legislation.

Call, write, or email your senators asking for support for Sen. Brown’s proposal to protect our health, our jobs, and our sovereignty.

Her bill would bring the negotiations under congressional oversight and, most importantly, would require congressional approval.

Craig Etchison

Fort Ashby, W.Va.

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