Another Voice: Pacific trade deal would hurt Western New Yorkers

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In Congress, career politicians often cater to special interests when making major decisions. Unfortunately, many of these same politicians forget and ignore the interests of everyday Americans. 

[Representative Chris Collins| February, 6 2016 | The Buffalo News]

It is these Americans, the ones who wake up before the sun rises and work all day just to put a roof over their family’s head and food on the table, who stand to lose the most if we accept the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was negotiated by President Obama and signed this week.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is comprised of American and Asian nations that border the Pacific Ocean. The countries involved are home to 40 percent of the world’s population and produce 60 percent of global gross domestic product, which would make this the largest free trade agreement in history.

Unfortunately, Western New York bears the scars of poorly negotiated past free trade agreements; scars like lost jobs, shuttered factories and a generation lost to economic opportunities that were outsourced to foreign competitors.

The TPP agreement fails to address several of the biggest challenges facing American manufacturers, including currency manipulation and intellectual property protection.  

By failing to address currency manipulation, foreign countries are able to gain an unfair competitive advantage by making their exports less expensive than American-made goods. In the past, we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs to countries like Mexico and South Korea because we failed to include currency manipulation provisions. The Obama administration refused to address this issue.

The TPP also lacks significant intellectual property protections. The United States not only has the hardest workers in the world, it also has the best innovators. We cannot stand for a deal that fails to provide adequate patent protections to those who invent world-changing products.

The complete inability of Obama to negotiate a deal beneficial to the United States is another reason this trade agreement will never have my support. Time and again, this president has allowed foreign countries to leave the bargaining table victorious at the expense of our nation.

I am a firm believer in free trade, but it must be fair trade as well. I built companies and created and saved over 500 jobs in my private sector career by hiring American workers, building American products and shipping them overseas to foreign markets. If given a fair playing field, American companies will thrive and succeed every time.

When deciding how to vote on legislation, I think about the hardworking Western New Yorkers who want a fair chance at the American Dream. It is because of these extraordinary people that I will oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Chris Collins, R-Clarence, represents New York’s 27th Congressional District.

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