A new free–trade agreement in the works between the United States and other important countries could threaten American jobs
By Brittany Hale
There’s a big free–trade deal in the works that you probably don’t know about. The Trans–Pacific Partnership is an agreement between the United States, Canada, and ten countries in the Pacific, including (possibly) Japan and Korea. The point of the TPP is to remove tariffs and other trade barriers, as well as encourage business development. Although it’s still in negotiation, it’s causing a lot of outcry due to the fact that its contents have been kept private.
Free–trade agreements have been at the center of the debate regarding globalization and, more specifically, manufacturing job loss.
Have you ever heard of NAFTA: The North American Free Trade Act? NAFTA was a free–trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Signed in 1992, NAFTA has had big consequences for North American workers. According to economist Robert Scott, the agreement lost the United States nearly 700,000 jobs. Put simply, provisions in NAFTA allowed businesses to move more freely across borders, which is why maquiladoras (mexican factories) have become prominent and are a huge contributor to American jobs being moved across the border.
So, given what the record has been when it comes to free–trade agreements and their effect on American workers, why would we support the TPP? Well, businesses will benefit from the removal of barriers and streamlined, diminished regulations. They will also be able to challenge any perceived trade barriers in an international court, according to “The Monitor.”
Like NAFTA, the TPP puts too much power in corporations and not enough stock in workers. It’s not just American workers who will suffer should the TPP be adopted. After the passage of NAFTA, farm owners in Mexico were priced out of their land and must now work in factories doing some of the same jobs that American manufacturers used to do. Here in the U.S., the TPP will continue the slow erosion of middle class jobs.
The most troubling news surrounding the Trans–Pacific Partnership is that most of its contents are being kept secret. Unless you’re a big corporation, that is. According to Richard Eskow, about a hundred corporate representatives were able to see text of the deal. Meanwhile, President Obama is attaching a “fast track” provision to the deal, which excludes amendments from being added to the agreement and forbids filibustering, in an attempt to push its acceptance through Congress.
Students: keep an eye on the Trans–Pacific Partnership. Its adoption could have adverse effects on your future. Specifically, whether or not there will be jobs available after college.