The text of the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership was released on Thursday, revealing the details of a trade pact designed to boost commerce between 40% of the global economy.
Political analysts highlight that the TPP will be a “legacy-defining” achievement for U.S. President Barack Obama, an extremely business-friendly Democrat who has continually thrown workers under the bus as he kowtowed to big business throughout his presidency.
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Obama on Trans-Pacific Partnership
U.S. President Barack Obama, who has been TPP since his first term, will have his work cut out to convince enough moderate legislators to see the trade pact ratified.
“The TPP means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century,” Obama wrote in an online post. “If we don’t pass this agreement – if America doesn’t write those rules – then countries like China will.”
Labor and trade groups opposed to Trans-Pacific Partnership
“It’s worse than we thought,” Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said in a conference call after examining the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday.
Representatives for labor organizations said the new trade agreement had too many vague, poorly worded or unenforceable provisions.
“There are improvements, but we do not believe those improvements are significant or meaningful for workers,” Celeste Drake, trade and globalization policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, noted on the conference call.
The TPP deal sets common standards on issues such as workers’ rights and intellectual property protection, and Thursday was the first public look at the final proposed text.
Both Republicans and Democrats, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, have opposed the TPP in the past, saying the 30 chapters plus add-on agreements, thousands of pages deal does not sufficiently protect American businesses or workers.
The White House is in the process of formally notify U.S. lawmakers that the president will sign the deal, a senior Obama administration official noted on Thursday. That means the 90-day clock would start for Congress.
Keep in mind that the earliest the TPP could come up for a Congressional vote is March, meaning it is likely the trade pact becomes a campaign issue in the U.S. presidential primary race.
Political analysts note that China has proposed its own 16-nation free-trade area (including India) that would be the world’s largest trade group totaling 3.4 billion people.
Readers can find the entire 5,000+ page text of the agreement here, although the document is so dense and opaque it is unlikely most who try will be able to understand it.