The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the latest in a long line of disastrous trade deals and I oppose it. Recommendations from trade reform allies in the environmental, consumer, public health, global development and business sectors were largely ignored throughout this secretive process. This trade deal will only continue the decline of American’s manufacturing jobs by shipping jobs overseas. As your Representative, I will not support trade deals that do not benefit the majority of Missouri workers and families.
Food Safety Standards
One of the more disturbing components of this deal is how it would impact our ability to inspect foreign foods and maintain high food safety standards in the United States. Not only would we be unable to adequately inspect imported food, we could be forced to get rid of our own food safety rules, entirely due to the threat of trade sanctions from international corporations and other countries. I have spent my career keeping people safe and I will continue to do so by opposing TPP.
Cost of Medicine
The TPP offers sweeping protections of drug companies as part of the agreement’s intellectual property chapter. The New England Journal of Medicine summarized concerns about TPP’s impact on healthcare in developed and less developed countries including potentially increased prices of pharmaceuticals due to patent extensions, which it claimed, could threaten millions of lives. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich believes that TPP would delay affordable generic versions of drugs.
The TPP would also tie the hands of policymakers who wish to address the skyrocketing prices of drugs here in America. Once the TPP is ratified, the federal government will not be able to enact laws that are inconsistent with the TPP without violating the treaty. Even if a future Congress and President agreed that these pro-industry laws should be reformed, a drug company could then sue the United States for billions of dollars using a dispute process also included in the agreement. This scenario shows why the pharmaceutical industry has pushed so aggressively for certain policies to be included in the TPP.
The labor enforcement provisions are still inadequate to address the enormous challenges posed by this deal. Labor rights, as well as human rights, are in question in Mexico, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei, where the rights of workers are already routinely violated.
Outsourcing American Jobs
According to economists from John Hopkins University and Brandeis University, “over five years of implementation, the TPP will result in 40,000 to 50,000 American workers annually looking for new job in each of the first three years. That would rise to 100,000 annually in the final two years” [“The key thing to know about Obama’s big trade deal,” Quartz.com, 2015]. Countries like Vietnam and Brunei will surely receive production jobs which U.S. multinational corporations will shift more and more jobs to.
The investment rules provide expansive new legal rights and powers to foreign businesses to challenge legitimate government actions. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich contends that the TPP is a “Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.
The lack of enforceable currency rules subject to trade sanctions means that the promised new export markets may never materialize.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and Public Health
Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Adam S. Hersh questioned the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions of the TPP. They wrote that “the obligation to compensate investors for losses of expected profits can and has been applied even where rules are nondiscriminatory and profits are made from causing public harm. Imagine what would have happened if these provisions had been in place when the lethal effects of asbestos were discovered. Rather than shutting down manufacturers and forcing them to compensate those who had been harmed, under ISDS, governments would have had to pay the manufacturers not to kill their citizens. Taxpayers would have been hit twice — first to pay for the health damage caused by asbestos, and then to compensate manufacturers for their lost profits when the government stepped in to regulate a dangerous product.”