26 June 2016 - We Need Help to Pass TPP

We are hearing very little meaningful conversation in the halls of Congress these days about the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership trade agreement, but then, come to think of it, we are not hearing much of anything meaningful in the way of conversation or legislation coming out of the halls of Congress because it is election year. Members are spending more time trying to keep their jobs than passing legislation.

I can assure you behind the election rhetoric, behind the scenes, the battle over the agreement continues. The National Farmers Union is the one national ag group opposed to the agreement, but I would say at least 90% of the agricultural community would like to see it approved. It would expand agricultural trade and our markets; it would mean more jobs in this country; and it would level the playing field in the Pacific Region where 40% of the trade on the planet takes place.

It is interesting to hear some of the arguments that are being used by those who are asking for a NO vote.

You may recall a few weeks ago I talked about a letter sent to members of Congress by 220 agricultural groups asking for a YES vote. Well, a few days ago, more than 450 groups called on Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership saying the trade deal would allow fossil fuel companies to contest U.S. environmental rules in courts outside the United States.

The groups, most of them environmental organizations, warned that companies could challenge U. S. environmental standards in courts outside the domestic legal system under provisions of the 12-nation TPP as well as the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe. The letter said . . . “We strongly urge you to eliminate this threat to U.S. climate progress by committing to vote NO on the TPP.”

Presidential candidates, in their campaigns, continue to show their lack of understanding of the role played by trade agreements in a global economy. Their statements on the issue have ranged from disapproval of TPP, to no further trade agreements, and even to cancelling existing agreements like NAFTA that have been working for two decades. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, supported the agreement, but now as a Presidential candidate, says she wants to renegotiate the agreement to include stronger rules.
She, of all people, should realize under the terms of the agreement approved by the 12 countries, no changes can be made, simply vote YES or NO. President Obama wants a YES vote, so he can sign the agreement before he leaves office. I urge you to take every opportunity to convince your members of Congress to vote YES on the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.