The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was dead and buried. But now, with the imminent arrival of the new Biden administration, many of the most influential policy groups in Washington are quietly trying to resurrect it. Writing for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), Joshua Eisenman, the organization’s Senior Fellow in China Studies, argues that it is “time to revisit the TPP,” which has now been rebranded as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Last month, China signed a far-reaching trade agreement with most of the countries of south and east Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D‑N.Y.), the establishment favorite to replace outgoing Rep. Eliot Engel (D‑N.Y.) as chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, is known for his fierce support of “free trade” deals around the world. He didn’t just vote in favor of agreements like the Central America Free Trade Agreement or the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, but actively lobbied for them, and has spoken repeatedly and consistently about the merits of such deals, even when it involved siding with Republicans against the majority of Democrats.
A report by economists Thea M. Lee and Robert E. Scott at the Economic Policy Institute concedes that USMCA is a big improvement from the 2017 version, but concludes that it ultimately adds up to “Band-Aids on a fundamentally flawed agreement and process.” Using statistics from the U.S. International Trade Commission, Lee and Scott point out that, at best, the deal will only create about 51,000 jobs over the next six years and could raise the GDP by a few tenths of a percentage point. These potential jobs would come in farming, manufacturing and mining. The report cites an International Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper which predicts nothing but bad news for the (already beleaguered) auto-industry. That same paper concludes that, “At the aggregate level, effects of the USMCA are relatively small...effects of the USMCA on real GDP are negligible.”
One of core elements of the proposed Green New Deal is a just transition—the creation of fair wage jobs that benefit communities, particularly those currently or formerly dependent on high polluting industries. In early July, a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel ruled that renewable energy policies that supported local green jobs in eight U.S. states violate international trade rules. The case is a direct legacy of the Obama administration’s aggressive free trade agenda, which routinely ran roughshod over environmental and climate concerns.
Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA, which he attempts to rebrand as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), maintains the same failed model as NAFTA and even includes provisions from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Rebranding does not change that it favors big corporations at the expense of people and the planet. During negotiations, over 1,000 civil society groups outlined negotiation demands for the new NAFTA. Comparing the text to these demands, the agreement falls far short. This agreement should be rejected and replaced with a new model of trade that protects workers, the environment and democracy. We can stop NAFTA II.
We, the undersigned, hereby express our opposition to the new “Free Trade” agreement with the United States that has been signed by the current government of Enrique Peña Nieto and Donald Trump. We call on you to reject this agreement and to push for its rejection by the Congress of the Union. The negotiations of this new U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement were conducted in near secrecy. This new treaty is nothing more than the deepening of the policies implemented over more than two decades under NAFTA. We are concerned that this new treaty will serve to further open up our economy for the sole benefit of the large U.S. transnational corporations...
If the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement were good for working people, its content wouldn’t be hidden. Just what the Trump administration and the Mexican government of Enrique Peña Nieto have cooked up we do not know, but given the proclivities of both it is not likely to be good. That the hurried-up deal appears to be intended to force Canada, which has the strongest regulations among the three NAFTA countries, into signing on disadvantageous terms, provides all the more reason to be skeptical. And, finally, a study of the United States Office of the Trade Representative’s “fact sheet” leaves no doubt that any new NAFTA will be a windfall for multi-national corporations, at our expense.
President Trump slaps tariffs on imports from many of the US’s traditional allies, condemning their leaders for unfair treatment. The mainstream media warns of the erosion of the global order. President Trump threatens, and then imposes, high tariffs on Chinese products and other restrictions on trade relations with China. ZTE corporation, a leading state-owned, high-tech company in China, is barred on national security grounds from importing US-made components that are essential to their products. Then the ZTE action is reversed, leading some Democratic senators to denounce Trump for going soft on China. Whose side should we be on, if any, in this burgeoning trade war?