Tag Archives: Trade Promotion Authority

U.S. Ignores Malaysia’s Human Trafficking Record in Favor of TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of the largest trade agreements in history involving the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The nations have been negotiating the deal since 2005, with global resistance growing since 2012.  Now that President Obama has signed into law Trade Promotion Authority, or ‘“fast track”, the trade agreement is expected to be presented to Congress before the end of the year. Under Fast Track, Congress only has an “up” or “down” vote on the TPP and can not amend the agreement.

Following the passing of Fast Track it was reported that a provision was included that allowed the State Department to upgrade Malaysia’s status on human trafficking in order to comply with U.S. laws on trade. TechDirt reports:

“Earlier this week, we wrote about a troubling move by the US State Department to “upgrade” Malaysia from a “tier 3” country to a “tier 2” country regarding human trafficking. This move came despite a near total lack of evidence of any improvement by Malaysia. In fact, just two months ago 139 mass graves were discovered for migrant workers who had been trafficked and/or held for ransom. And the US ambassador to Malaysia had publicly criticized the country for failing to tackle its massive human trafficking problem.

So why would the State Department magically upgrade Malaysia? Well, because of a tiny provision in the fast track “Trade Promotion Authority” deal that Congress recently passed. It noted that fast track authority would not apply to trade deals involving countries that were categorized as “tier 3” by the State Department. In other words, this should have given the US tremendous leverage to push Malaysia to really tackle the problem. Instead, because it appears that the administration is so focused on getting the TPP officially finished and ratified, it got the State Department to just magically upgrade Malaysia, and effectively spit on the graves of those murdered migrant workers.”

Once the news began to spread, 19 Senators wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding answers.

“Fighting human trafficking is one of the great moral challenges of our time. It is therefore with grave concern that we now hear Malaysia may be upgraded in this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report based on developments that occurred after the end of the review period. A premature upgrade of Malaysia would undermine the integrity of the TIP report process and compromise our international efforts to fight human trafficking.”

These allegations are only the latest criticisms of the TPP. The critics of the TPP come from a wide spectrum of activists, doctors and religious leaders. The most-cited issue with the trade deal is the granting of authority to international tribunals which will have the power to override court rulings within the individual nation states.

As the trade agreement nears completion both the Anglican and Catholic churches of New Zealand are demanding that the government be more transparent about the negotiations. Radio NZ reports that bishops from the churches are concerned with the lack of openness and that corporate interests are influencing the agreement while the people are being excluded. The churches also called on the New Zealand government to make the draft text of the agreement public.

In early February,  doctors and health professional representing seven countries released a letter warning that the TPP will lead to higher medical costs for all nations. The letter, published in The Lancet medical journal, states that, “Rising medicine costs would disproportionately affect already vulnerable populations.” The doctors called on the governments involved in the trade deal to publicly release the full text of the agreement. They also demanded an independent analysis of the impacts on health and human rights for each nation involved in the deal.

Also in February, an analysis by The Washington Post revealed the US government’s numbers on expected job increases from TPP are not factually correct. The Fact Checker examined several quotes from government officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Both Kerry and Vilsack claimed the international trade agreement would create 650,000 new jobs. However, these numbers do not take into account income gains and changing wages. According to the government own sources imports and exports would increase by the same amount resulting in a net number of zero new jobs.

The U.S. government’s willingness to ignore human trafficking allegations goes to show that this nation has no interest in “human rights” and only uses the phrase when it is convenient to their goals of global hegemony. The people have only the illusion of representation. If we are to create a truly free world we must begin to look to our communities for answers and not the State.


Stapleton: Where Has Our Confidence Gone?

Why have Americans lost confidence in Government?

Most Americans have lived under a few assumptions:

1. The laws are just and equally apportioned.
2. Those we elect work to preserve the laws and the constitution, protecting our liberties and insuring our protection.
3. The interpretation of the laws are predictable and if you abide by the laws you are safe.

What Americans are realizing is that none of these are true. Their elected representatives are not looking out for you- they follow their own self interest, which usually means bending to the will of the special interest lobby.

That’s why we see things like Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership. Neither of our parties is looking out for the good of the people. They just simply follow the will of either the corporate lobby or the union lobby.

Americans see a president who can’t go a week without a major scandal, whether that be the sale of guns to drug lords or arguing before the Supreme Court claiming one day that Obamacare is not a tax and the next day claiming that it is.

Secret government agencies with the support of both Congress and the President violates your constitutional protections by spying on you and collecting your data without your permission… and then lies to you about doing it.

The government seizes citizens property without evidence of or even charging them with a crime, and then extorts money from them by threatening to drag them through years of legal battles to get back what is rightfully theirs.

Americans no longer know how the laws will be interpreted. They feel as though their government treats them as criminals, steals from them and threatens them if they do anything but accept the injustice.
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Rep. Ryan Pushes Fast-Track Authority To Ensure TPP Transparency

During House Rules Committee testimony on Wednesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) appeared to acknowledge the secrecy surrounding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) by mentioning that the specifics of TPP will be more transparent once the House supports the passage of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

The TPA is “fast-track” authority to advance trade deals including TPP, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). If TPA passes Congress would not be able to introduce amendments to trade deals, and would only the authority to approve or reject trade deals from the President.

[RELATED: TPP ‘Fast Track Authority’ Passes Senate, Moves to House]

Supporters of TPP are confident that this partnership and other agreements would serve as a large boost for the economy, while critics worry that major trade deals may favor crony capitalism and compromise sovereignty.

During House Rules Committee discussion regarding the secrecy of trade agreements, Ryan said that the TPP will be “declassified and made public once it’s agreed to.”

Breitbart noted that members of Congress are allowed to read the text of TPP in a secret room within the Capitol, but have not been allowed to see the text of the TiSA and T-TIP.

If TPA is not passed, Ryan warned that “at the dawn of the 21st Century, be it China or Europe, other nations will go around the world writing the rule book for the global economy, instead of America and our allies. It would be a travesty if we allowed that to happen.”

To read more about TPA, the TPP, and other trade negotiations, click here.

Sessions: If TPP Is Good Deal, Let Congress See Details

By Peter Fricke

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions says he’s concerned that Congress might blindly relinquish its authority over free-trade agreements, leaving the American people with little say on future deals.

Specifically, Sessions is critical of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, also known as “fast-tracking,” which would enable the president to submit trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no opportunity for amendments. (RELATED: TPP Fast-Tracking is Designed to Hide a Bad Deal From Americans)

“Congress has the responsibility to ensure that any international trade agreement entered into by the United States must serve the national interest, not merely the interests of those crafting the proposal in secret,” Sessions said Monday in a press release.

TPA would apply to all free-trade agreements, but its immediate purpose is to ease passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a draft agreement among 12 Pacific countries—including the U.S., Japan, and Australia—that calls for eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers, as well as cooperating to create legal and regulatory coherence that would make trade more efficient.

Critics of the deal, including Sessions and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, complain that President Obama has refused to make details of the agreement public, giving rise to concerns that the TPP would encourage outsourcing of American jobs to countries with lower labor standards.

“History suggests that trade deals set into motion under the 6-year life of TPA could exacerbate our trade imbalance, acting as an impediment to both GDP and wage growth,” Sessions asserts. In support of that claim, Sessions cites research by labor economist Clyde Prestowitz, who attributes 60 percent of the 5.7 million American manufacturing jobs lost over the last decade to import-driven trade imbalances.

At a minimum, Sessions claims, “TPA eliminates Congress’ ability to amend or debate trade implementing legislation and guarantees an up-or-down vote on a far-reaching international agreement before that agreement has received any public review.” (RELATED: Trade Bill Puts Boehner and Pelosi Between Barack and Their Parties)

Under TPA, he explains, the president would be able to classify or redact portions of the deals submitted to Congress, making it difficult for lawmakers to seek legislative redress in the event that they have concerns about the desirability — or even the legality — of a trade agreement.

Moreover, “if Congress does not affirmatively refuse to reauthorize TPA at the end of the defined authorization (2018), the authority is automatically renewed for an additional three years so long as the President requests the extension.”

Sessions also expresses unease about a summary of the TPP put out by the U.S. Trade Representative, which states that the deal is a “living agreement.” According to Sessions, this provision “means that participating nations could both add countries to the TPP without Congress’ approval (like China), and could also change any of the terms of the agreement.”

Without Congressional input, for example, the president could unilaterally insert language into the TPP “to facilitate the expanded movement of foreign workers into the U.S.—including visitor visas that are used as worker visas.”

Obama brushed off such concerns during an address to the progressive group Organizing for Action last week, saying the deal has “strong provisions for workers, strong provisions for the environment … so when people say that this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about.” (RELATED: Obama Hammers Dems for Opposing Free Trade)

Sessions, however, insists that Congress should have the power to make that determination, rather than having to take the president’s word that the TPP is a good deal for the American people.

“If we want an international trade deal that advances the interests of our own people,” he concludes, “then perhaps we don’t need a ‘fast-track’ but a regular track: where the President sends us any proposal he deems worthy and we review it on its own merits.”

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