Letter of the Week, Jan. 26-31

Pacific trade agreement detrimental to United States

January 31, 2014 

On Jan. 1, 1994, NAFTA, which wove Mexico, Canada and the U.S. in a new form of trade agreement, was fast-tracked into law. Protestations asserted that NAFTA did not include necessary consumer, labor, health and environmental protections.

Through the years, documentation testifies that those objections to NAFTA were right on. Furthermore, jobs, thus far never regained, were taken by NAFTA provisions from our nation's workers, both white and blue-collared. Yes, trade has increased and corporations have made profits but Jane and John Doe, American citizens, have not made profits and many of them are still out of work.

Unfortunately, President Obama does not seem to get it. On the one hand, he talks about promoting income equality, and on the other hand, he is trying to persuade Congress to agree to another fast track for yet another gigantic trade bill, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes 12 nations.

As people become acquainted with its secret provisions, the TPP is being referred to as "NAFTA on steroids." The fast track approval method is aptly named. It allows Congress to vote yes or no on TPP with little debate and only after the president has signed it.

No members of Congress have been involved in the secret negotiations and none were informed about the provisions until a few of them began to complain that they needed to know something about the bill.

Furthermore, this pact removes regulations that now protect consumers, workers, environment, food, medicine, and even our financial stability. One of the most egregious TPP provisions is that all corporations, through the tribunals authorized to oversee trade disputes, can demand compensation from the U.S. Treasury against our laws, enacted to protect our health and well-being, that might undermine their anticipated future profits.

This action is permitted in other trade agreements and has been used. Our members of Congress should vote no on fast track, as well as no on the TPP.

Jo Williams


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