Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

July 29, 2013

Lack of transparency in trade deal proposal is troubling

As leaders within the Presbyterian Church (USA), we write to call your attention to our concerns about the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP).

If signed, the TPP will encompass 40 percent of the global marketplace, representing the largest trade agreement in our history.

None of the negotiating text has been officially released but, according to leaked documents, the TPP will impact the cost of medicine, food safety, jobs — here and abroad — and may even enable Wall Street to sidestep some of the reforms put into place after the financial collapse in 2008.

When such supports break, people turn to faith communities for help — for emotional support, for vouchers, for help with bills and rent and money for essential medications.

Caring for the vulnerable is one role of the church, but we are also called to protect the vulnerable from the consequences of bad public policies.

Here are our concerns:

The negotiations — involving 12 countries, including the United States and Japan — are secret, with roughly 600 corporate advisors on hand, but little citizen input.

The decision-making process in Washington is flawed. If it is fast-tracked, the TPP will be signed by the president before Congress votes on it.

Elected officials will have a few hours to argue about it; but, ultimately, they will vote yes or no only — with no chance to amend any provisions.

As leaders of the church, we understand shedding light to be part of our witness in the social sphere.

Major trade agreements need to be open to public debate. The repercussions have direct consequences for people’s lives.

The lack of transparency in this process is problematic. Negotiations that go on in the shadows — and attempt to eliminate public debate — are rightly questioned.

We urge you to contact Rep. John Delaney’s office and ask him to oppose the fast-tracking of the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement.

The Rev. Thomas K. Morgan, pastor, the First Presbyterian churches of Lonaconing and Barton

The Rev. Penny Pitts, pastor, The First Presbyterian Church of Frostburg

The Rev. Caroline M. Kelly, pastor ,The First Presbyterian Church of Cumberland

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