Text of Trade Deal Released, Waving a Green Flag for the Debate


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Workers at a garment factory in southern Vietnam. CreditAaron Joel Santos for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The release on Thursday of the full text of President Obama’s trade accord with 11 Pacific Rim nations brought out opponents and supporters and officially opened what may be the last big battle of the president’s tenure: winning congressional approval of the largest regional trade deal in history.

The opposition mainly came from the left, as an array of unions, environmental groups and public advocacy organizations that typically resist global trade agreements registered their dismay. But some businesses, like Ford Motor, also joined the emerging resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The reaction confirmed that in this final fight, Mr. Obama will have to rely on the Republicans who control Congress if he is to sell the legacy-making agreement in the months before the House and Senate vote next spring. Republican leaders were withholding endorsements for now, leaving the president to make the case on his own.

Mr. Obama immediately sought to do so. Early Thursday, the White House posted the text of the deal on Medium, a social media sharing website, along with the president’s statement hailing the agreement as a “new type of trade deal that puts American workers first.”

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The United States trade representative, Michael B. Froman, left, greeting the Vietnamese minister of industry and trade, Vu Huy Hoang, at the close of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement last month in Atlanta. CreditErik S. Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency

The accord ties together countries from Canada to Chile and Japan to Australia that account for 40 percent of the world’s economy. While the 12 nations’ trade ministers concluded the agreement a month ago, after years of negotiations, Mr. Obama said that the disclosure of the details now should build support. He cited the agreement’s labor and environmental protections, the end of many tariffs and trade barriers among the countries, and expanded markets for American goods and services.

“It eliminates 18,000 taxes that various countries put on American goods,” Mr. Obama said. “That will boost Made-in-America exports abroad while supporting higher-paying jobs right here at home. And that’s going to help our economy grow.”

He cited the strategic as well as economic advantages of a trade alliance that would counter a rising China, which is not a party to the agreement.

“When it comes to Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, the rule book is up for grabs. And if we don’t pass this agreement — if America doesn’t write those rules — then countries like China will,” Mr. Obama said. “And that would only threaten American jobs and workers and undermine American leadership around the world.”

The president’s post on Medium came hours after the United States trade representative first released the 30 chapters, side agreements and other attachments that make up the voluminous accord in the middle of the night, simultaneous with other nations doing so.

Also on Thursday, he officially notified Congress of his intent to sign the agreement in 90 days, a period specified by law to give the House and Senate time to begin deliberating over its terms. Congress has additional time beyond that to debate and vote on legislation to enact the agreement.

Final action is expected by perhaps May, ensuring that Congress’s debate will occur against the backdrop of a presidential campaign in which leading candidates of both parties already have gone on record against the accord.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democrats’ nomination, said the trade text was proof that the accord “is even worse than I thought” — a threat to American jobs, food and product safety and access to affordable drugs, for the benefit of international corporations and third-world countries.

Without naming Mrs. Clinton, who last month announced her opposition to the agreement, Mr. Sanders summoned the phrase she once used as secretary of state to hail the emerging Pacific accord. “It is clear to me that the proposed pact is not, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements,” Mr. Sanders said.

The agreement also must be approved in the other 11 nations. Besides Chile, Canada, Japan and Australia, they are Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Obama administration is hoping that the accord’s labor protections, along with separate bilateral agreements on labor and human rights between the United States and Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, will help persuade some Democrats to back the deal. The administration is especially eager to promote its agreement with Vietnam, which commits its communist government to change its laws to allow workers to freely unionize and to strike, not just for better wages and hours but also for improved working conditions and other rights.

“Without reservation, I think this is the best opportunity we’ve had in years to encourage deep institutional reform in Vietnam that will advance human rights, and it will only happen if T.P.P. is approved,” Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said in an interview.

The organization where Mr. Malinowski formerly worked, Human Rights Watch, is among the skeptics who say Vietnam’s commitments are unenforceable, especially given the track record of the United States trade office. John Sifton, the group’s Asia advocacy director, said workers should have been given the same right that corporations have under this trade agreement and others: to take complaints about a country’s compliance directly to a dispute settlement panel.

“Are trade unionists who actually produce all the capital that we’re talking about here allowed to bring complaints against a country for violations?” he asked. “No, of course not.”

For the first time as part of a trade accord, the Pacific partners agreed in a “joint declaration” to avoid manipulating the value of their currencies for trade advantage, to report interventions in foreign exchange markets and to meet annually to hold one another accountable. The language did not persuade some Democrats — or Ford, which broke with other big businesses supporting the agreement — that it would prevent Japan and other countries from intervening to underprice their exports unfairly.

The annual currency forum “does nothing to change the status quo,” Ford said in a statement, adding, “It fails to include dispute settlement mechanisms to ensure global rules prohibiting currency manipulation are enforced.”

While the Obama administration played up environmental standards included in the accord as precedent-setting, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council were among groups that came out in opposition, calling the language weaker than in trade pacts negotiated during the George W. Bush administration.

Other advocacy groups, including Doctors Without Borders, cited language that would give pharmaceutical companies up to eight years of intellectual property protections before their data is available for production of lower-cost generic drugs.

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That has put the administration in a bind: Those protections, while too long for health care advocacy groups, are shorter than the 12 years the big drug companies currently enjoy. That has angered drug company allies in Congress, especially Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade. Without Mr. Hatch’s support, Senate approval could be impossible.

The senator was noncommittal on Thursday, promising only a “rigorous review” of the pact. Also staying neutral was the new House speaker, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

“We do not rubber-stamp anything around here, let alone trade agreements,” Mr. Ryan told reporters at the Capitol.

The organization where Mr. Malinowski formerly worked, Human Rights Watch, is among the skeptics who say Vietnam’s commitments are unenforceable, especially given the track record of the United States trade office. John Sifton, the group’s Asia advocacy director, said workers should have been given the same right that corporations have under this trade agreement and others: to take complaints about a country’s compliance directly to a dispute settlement panel.

“Are trade unionists who actually produce all the capital that we’re talking about here allowed to bring complaints against a country for violations?” he asked. “No, of course not.”

For the first time as part of a trade accord, the Pacific partners agreed in a “joint declaration” to avoid manipulating the value of their currencies for trade advantage, to report interventions in foreign exchange markets and to meet annually to hold one another accountable. The language did not persuade some Democrats — or Ford, which broke with other big businesses supporting the agreement — that it would prevent Japan and other countries from intervening to underprice their exports unfairly.

The annual currency forum “does nothing to change the status quo,” Ford said in a statement, adding, “It fails to include dispute settlement mechanisms to ensure global rules prohibiting currency manipulation are enforced.”

While the Obama administration played up environmental standards included in the accord as precedent-setting, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council were among groups that came out in opposition, calling the language weaker than in trade pacts negotiated during the George W. Bush administration.

Other advocacy groups, including Doctors Without Borders, cited language that would give pharmaceutical companies up to eight years of intellectual property protections before their data is available for production of lower-cost generic drugs.

CONTINUE READING THE MAIN STORY218COMMENTS

That has put the administration in a bind: Those protections, while too long for health care advocacy groups, are shorter than the 12 years the big drug companies currently enjoy. That has angered drug company allies in Congress, especially Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade. Without Mr. Hatch’s support, Senate approval could be impossible.

The senator was noncommittal on Thursday, promising only a “rigorous review” of the pact. Also staying neutral was the new House speaker, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

“We do not rubber-stamp anything around here, let alone trade agreements,” Mr. Ryan told reporters at the Capitol.

About Uy Do

Banking System Analyst, former NTT data Global Marketing Dept Senior Analyst, Banking System Risk Specialist, HR Specialist
This entry was posted in joint declaration, TPP and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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