Trade policy is seldom sexy. It’s generally the type of issue that doesn’t get as much coverage in the press as the new “Star Wars” trailer or Kim Kardashian’s latest escapade.
It should though, as trade policy can directly affect the number and kind of jobs in this country.
Right now there is a new treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that is causing a lot of concern.
According to the Office of United States Trade Representative, “The TPP will make it easier to sell Made-in-America goods and services exports to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing markets in the world, and support homegrown jobs and economic growth. The TPP will level the playing field for American workers and businesses by building strong and enforceable labor standards … American small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and have accounted for nearly two thirds of new private sector jobs in recent decades. The TPP will improve transparency and regulations to help U.S. companies engage in and benefit from increased trade in the Asia Pacific.”
The concerns stem from allowing President Barack Obama to “fast track” the trade agreement without the amount of debate trade deals have received in the past.
The issue is whether or not this new agreement will actually do what it is supposed to do. Remember NAFTA? Here is what Robert E. Scott wrote about its effects in 2013 for the Economic Policy Institute: “Fast forward 20 years and it’s clear that things didn’t work out as [President Bill] Clinton promised. NAFTA led to a flood of outsourcing and foreign direct investment in Mexico. U.S. imports from Mexico grew much more rapidly than exports, leading to growing trade deficits … Jobs making cars, electronics, and apparel and other goods moved to Mexico, and job losses piled up in the United States, especially in the Midwest where those products used to be made. By 2010, trade deficits with Mexico had eliminated 682,900 good U.S. jobs, most (60.8 percent) in manufacturing.”
Over the weekend local labor leaders discussed the TPP. I wasn’t able to attend the press conference, but Fiore Grassetti, president of the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council released the following statement: “Workers across Massachusetts are standing up for higher wages but Congress is considering legislation that will speed through corporate-driven trade deals. For decades, we’ve seen how fast-tracked trade deals devastated our communities through lost jobs and eroded public services. Massachusetts can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs. That’s why Congress must reject Fast Track and maintain its constitutional authority and leverage to improve the TPP and other trade deals.
“Trade deals have wide-ranging impacts and shouldn’t be negotiated behind closed doors and then rubber-stamped. The current Trans-Pacific Partnership deal under discussion would cover 40 percent of the world’s GDP [gross domestic product]. In Massachusetts, the trade deficit is already $6,817 million [according the U.S. Census information]. We can’t afford another bad trade deal.
Grassetti concluded, “A deal this big should be debated in a full and open manner like every other piece of legislation. Working people are showing tremendous courage standing up to the low-wage, corporate agenda. It’s time for the members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to do the same.”
What do you think?
I was heartened by the response to last week’s column and wanted to share two more reasons who know you’re from Springfield from a reader:
• If you copped free tickets to the Steve Wozniak address at the MassMutual Center next month.
• If you are not surprised that 10 of the 15 persons arrested at the Black Lives Matter protest don’t live in Springfield.
Among my nightmares are instances in which I base a column or story on the reporting of others and the reporting is false.
Part of a recent opinion piece was based on a quote in the Boston press attributed to John Fish and referenced his feelings about people who oppose the Boston Olympic bid.
Turns out the television station that reported the quote originally got it wrong and retracted it. I deleted that part of my opinion online in response.
My apologies to Fish and here’s what I’d like to do: the next time he’s in Western Massachusetts talking about statewide support of the campaign, give me 15 minutes and tell me why I should back it.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at email@example.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.