Bernie Sanders Calls Agreement of Trans-Pacific Partnership ‘Disastrous’

October 06, 2015


Moments after the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a surging contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, called the accord “disastrous.”

[ by Ross Barkan | October 5, 2015 | Observer ]

Mr. Sanders, an independent and self-identified socialist, has joined organized labor and liberal members of Congress in railing against the TPP, a historic free-trade agreement that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia.

“I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”

Mr. Sanders said he would do all he can to defeat the agreement.

“This agreement follows failed trade deals with Mexico, China and other low-wage countries that have cost millions of jobs and shuttered tens of thousands of factories across the United States,” he said. “We need trade policies that benefit American workers and consumers, not just the CEOs of large multi-national corporations.”

For the Obama administration, the TPP is legacy-making, a way to facilitate trade with countries America long hoped to engage more fruitfully. Cementing the accord took years of negotiations and, in recent months, drove a wedge between House Democrats who opposed the deal and Mr. Obama. Liberals fear the TPP will repeat some of the perceived mistakes of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a Clinton-era accord that Mr. Sanders and others blame for the outsourcing of American jobs.

In a rare move, the Obama administration found itself partnering with Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to support the agreement. Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary, has backed free-trade agreements in the past, but has been more wary of TPP, which is unpopular with the Democratic base.

Congress must ultimately vote to approve the accord, but it will be an up-down vote after the Senate and House gave Mr. Obama fast track authority earlier this year. The terms of the deal cannot be rewritten by Congress.

The Pacific accord would phase out thousands of import tariffs, as well as other barriers to international trade. It also would establish uniform rules on corporations’ intellectual property, open the Internet even in communist Vietnam and crack down on wildlife trafficking and environmental abuses.

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  • Thank you Bernie Sanders for your continued unambiguous resistance to the TPP!

    Virtually all our previous FTAs have resulted in higher trade deficits with the treaty partners. Since WTO and NAFTA treaties opened our Free Trade era, we’ve accumulated over $11 trillion in merchandise trade deficits and lost almost 5 million US manufacturing jobs. The TPP is likely to accelerate our de-industrialization, which is not just a loss of jobs and factories (over 63,000 factories just in the 21st century!) but also a loss of

    The proponents of the TPP argue “We can’t let China set the standards for Asian trade,” or “this is our chance to impose rising standards in Asia.” But the actual result of any version of the TPP would be to use those lower Asian standards to undermine America’s standards. We’ve already seen many attacks on national standards via the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals create by previous FTA’s, allowing foreign corporations to sue countries (including the USA) for their laws and regulations the corporations deem harmful to their profits. According to Senator Jeff Sessions, the TPP would add an additional and even more ominous layer of this global governance. In his June 8, 2015 letter to President Obama, Senator Sessions criticizes how:

    “…the TPP…creates a new transnational governance structure known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission. The details of this new governance commission are extremely broad and have the hallmarks of a nascent European Union, with many similarities.”

    “Reviewing the secret text, plus the secret guidance document that accompanies it, reveals that this new transnational commission—chartered with a “Living Agreement” clause—would have the authority to amend the agreement after its adoption, to add new members, and to issue regulations impacting labor, immigration, environmental, and commercial policy.”

    We already see how treaty law and international tribunals are used to eclipse national sovereignty and government accountable to the citizens. For example, recently the WTO ruled the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law created by the US Congress in 1946 is now an “illegal barrier to trade.” The US Congress is obediently moving to repeal COOL, as the House already voted to gut COOL. That sets a precedent that virtually all our consumer protection, labor and environmental standards will be similarly liable to international judgements against them!

    Senator Warren has documented in her report “Broken Promises” that virtually none of the labor, environmental or human rights “standards” in our existing trade treaties have been enforced by our trade partners. But the American government surely has the power and the duty to enforce our own standards through strong Customs laws.

    In fact, a unilateral and sovereign US Customs approach to standards might actually put more pressure on our trade partners to raise their standards than treaties have done. This is because, even after we adopt a Balanced Trade policy that limits our imports to the same value as our exports, the US market would still be the third largest importer in the world (after China and the European Union). Any country or foreign operation that wants to export their goods to the USA would at least take careful notice of our Customs standards. And our own domestic industries and American workers would finally be protected from competing against impossibly low foreign standards.