How the TPP Threatens Jobs & the Environment

TPPAtlantaThe Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive new trade and investment pact that has been negotiated behind closed doors for over five years between the United States and eleven other Pacific Rim countries, including notorious human rights violators like Vietnam and Malaysia.

The TPP threatens to offshore good-paying American jobs, lower wages and increase inequality by forcing Americans into competition with workers abroad paid less than 65 cents an hour.  

While the American people have been explicitly barred from knowing what negotiators proposed in our names, hundreds of corporate lobbyists were given special “cleared advisor” status and access to the secret texts throughout the negotiating process.  A final TPP deal was announced on October 5, 2015, but cannot be enacted without Congressional approval.

Even with the extreme secrecy, we still know a lot about the TPP due to leaked documents and admissions made by negotiators.  While it is impossible to judge all aspects of the TPP until the text is finally released, it is already clear that the TPP will hurt the U.S. economy in a variety of ways.

  • We know that the TPP includes rules of origin for at least some critical products, such as automobiles, that are worse than standards set in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  This enables products assembled from parts made in “third party” countries that are not subject to any TPP obligations, such as China, to enter the U.S. duty-free, undercutting U.S. manufacturing.
  • We know that the TPP includes investor-state dispute resolution (ISDS) provisions that make it safer — and, in fact, create incentives — for U.S. firms to offshore jobs to foreign countries where they can operate under privileged foreign investor status rather than be forced to deal with that country’s regulatory policy and courts.
  • We know that the TPP includes procurement provisions requiring that certain government purchasing programs afford foreign bidders “national treatment” and “non-discrimination,” effectively barring Buy American and Buy Local preferences critical for local development.
  • We also know that the TPP does not include the currency safeguards demanded by a bipartisan majority in Congress that would prevent known currency manipulators like Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia from devaluing their currencies to gain an unfair trade advantage over U.S. employers.

According to CWA president Chris Shelton: Despite all the hype, and given what we’ve learned over the pas many months and years of negotiations, it’s clear that this TPP remains a bad deal for working families and communities… It would continue the offshoring of jobs and weakening of our communities that started under the North American Free Trade Agreement and hasn’t stopped.  It would mean labor and environmental standards that look good on paper by fall flat when it comes to enforcement.” 

According to Machinists president Thomas Buffenbarger: “Negotiated in secret by and for multinational corporations that have no allegiance to any flag or country, the TPP will facilitate the export of American jobs to countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Mexico, which lack fundamental labor rights, some of which even engage in slave labor… As job and income growth continue to stagnate, Americans know that the economic system is rigged against them and the TPP is just the latest example. Congress must put the American people first and reject this deeply flawed trade agreement.”

According to Steelworkers international president Leo Gerard: “This TPP deal shouldn’t even be submitted to Congress and, if it is, it should be quickly rejected…  TPP may be the final blow to manufacturing in America.” 

According to Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa: “These big business handouts continue to hollow out the manufacturing base of communities and destroy middle-class jobs in their wake… In short, this is a bad deal that doesn’t deserve the stamp of approval from Congress.”

TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to stand up for constituents’ jobs and wages by voting NO on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In addition to offshoring jobs and driving down wages, the TPP would also provide corporations with new tools for attacking environmental and consumer protections, while simultaneously increasing the export of climate-disrupting fossil fuels.

  • We know that the TPP’s investor-state dispute resolution (ISDS) provisions enable transnational corporations to challenge environmental laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent the U.S. judicial system and any other country’s domestic judicial system. Under the World Trade Organization (WTO), portions of the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act have already been rolled back under similar “trade” provisions that grant this type of power to foreign governments.  The TPP would go beyond the WTO by giving individual corporations the power to initiate challenges.Right now, a number of smaller Free Trade Agreements and Bilateral Investment Treaties already grant these powers to transnational corporations — and they are being used to attack clean air rules in Peru, mining laws in El Salvador, a provincial fracking moratorium in Canada and a court decision against the oil giant Chevron in Ecuador, among many other examples.  Expanding this system throughout the Pacific Rim would only increase the commonplace of these challenges.
  • We know that under the TPP exports of fracked natural gas would automatically be deemed in the public interest, bypassing certain environmental and economic reviews, if going to any of eleven TPP countries throughout the Pacific Rim — including Japan, the world’s largest importer of natural gas.  The TPP is likely to increase energy costs for U.S. consumers and manufacturers, while simultaneously exposing Americans to the localized environmental consequences of fracking and the world to increased global warming pollution.
  • We know that the TPP’s procurement provisions also roll back the policy space needed for “Green Economy” programs useful for jumpstarting a sustainable economy.

In addition to just limiting environmental protections, the TPP is expected to contain numerous provisions that expand the unsustainable, fossil fuel economy.

  • The TPP contains a variety of provisions — including investor-state, quota prohibitions and more — that are likely to encourage increased “rip and ship” export of raw materials throughout the Pacific Rim, meaning more logging, drilling and mining in some of the most biodiverse ecosystems left on earth.
  • The offshoring of production enabled by the TPP would also have direct environmental consequences.  The carbon footprint and other emissions of overseas factories and mills is often much higher than it is in the United States.  While typically not as high as the production-related emissions, the pollution associated with shipping products across the Pacific Ocean to reach U.S. markets is also not inconsequential.
  • More so, access to sweatshop labor and lax environmental enforcement overseas also effectively subsidizes the production of certain consumer products — including, particularly, consumer electronics — thus enabling the sale of short lifecycle products that contribute massively to e-waste and throw-away consumer culture.

According to Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune: “The Trans-Pacific partnership would empower big polluters to challenge climate and environmental safeguards in private trade courts and would expand trade in dangerous fossil fuels that would increase fracking and imperil our climate.”

According to Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica: “The TPP as a whole is a frontal assault on environmental and climate safeguards. The TPP investment chapter would allow firms to sue governments for billions if climate or environmental rules interfere with corporate profits. The TPP would stymie effective regulation of chemicals and food safety.  It would expand U.S. fossil fuel exports across the Pacific.”

According to executive director May Boeve: “TPP makes climate change worse.  By handing even more power to Big Oil, letting massive corporations throw tantrum lawsuits at governments who dare to scale back emissions, and spreading fracking further around the world, there’s no question that TPP is an absolute disaster for our climate.”

TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to stand up for constituents and defend the environment by voting NO on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Download “How TPP Threatens Jobs & Wages” as a PDF

Download “How TPP Threatens the Environment” as a PDF