Trade Cases

TPP Agreement Signed in New Zealand

Written by Sandy Williams

After five years of negotiations, the twelve nations of the Trans Pacific Partnership signed the trade agreement in a ceremony in New Zealand on February 4.

The signing was celebrated by the trade ministers but the agreement must still be officially approved by the individual nations. The countries have two years to ratify TPP through their respective governmental processes.

The twelve nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. At least six countries, representing 85 percent of the combined GDP of the twelve, must approve the deal before it can be implemented. Malaysia has already voted their approval and Vietnam only needs the consent of the state president.

Critics of TPP say the deal favors big business over workers. Proponents like US Trade Representative Michael Froman say the agreement could add $100 billion a year to U.S. growth.

Republican leaders in Congress are opting for a vote on the TPP following the November elections in order not to jeopardize any political races. President Obama has been advocating early congressional passage of the agreement.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Republican Senator Orin Hatch said a vote for the TPP agreement may take years to get through Congress.

“No one should be under any illusions that, because the TPP is being signed today, an up or down vote on the agreement is imminent or that our oversight responsibilities are at an end,” Hatch said. “If history has taught us anything, it’s that this process can, and often does, take a very long time to complete. In fact, it’s not an exaggeration – or even all that remarkable – to say that it can take years to get an agreement through Congress AFTER it is signed.”

He added, “As I’ve said many times, the TPP is an extremely important agreement, and we need to get it done. But, given that importance, we need to focus more on getting it right than on getting it done fast.”

USW International President Leo Gerard issued a statement following the signing stating the “proposed agreement is seriously flawed and should be rejected.”

“Here in the United States, we know that this agreement would further undermine American jobs and manufacturing. Whether lacking provisions to adequately address currency manipulation, labor standards and environmental degradation, to limit the anticompetitive actions of China’s state-owned entities, as well as domestic content standards in the automobile sector, the TPP would further shrink a working American middle class and perpetuate growing disparities in income and wealth.

US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who was recently honored by AISI as 2015-2016 Congressional Steel Champion, had the following criticism of the agreement:

“Ohioans have seen the devastating impact of free trade agreements on our economy. Our factories shutter and our workers lose their jobs. But TPP is even worse for manufacturers than previous agreements. It was written by multinational corporations to the detriment of our workers. And while it’s already the largest trade agreement ever negotiated, it will only continue to grow as countries like China have the opportunity to dock onto the agreement in the future. It lacks enforceable currency standards and will undermine the North American auto supply chain’s companies and workers.

“While today’s signing may be a victory for the corporations who negotiated this deal behind closed doors, it is a major loss for American workers. TPP must still be approved by Congress. When TPP has its day on the Senate floor, I will do all I can to block this agreement, which will hurt workers in my state and across the country.

The American Iron and Steel Institute told SMU, We are still evaluating the details of the agreement. TheTPP still needs congressional approval of the agreement and implementing legislation, which will take quite a quite a bit of time.” 

The American Institute for International Steel welcomed the agreement. In a statement AISI said, “A fully implemented TPP agreement will advance the rule of law with respect to international trade, enhance transparency, promote efficiencies, facilitate job-creating exports and imports, and lower trade barriers in the economically and strategically vital Asia-Pacific region, all of which will benefit the steel supply chain. The signing of the TPP Agreement is a welcome and necessary first step along this path.”

Latest in Trade Cases