Could the Trans-Pacific Partnership Cost You a Job?

A proposed trade deal is generating a lot of confusion. We break down the potential pros and cons.

It could be miraculous for jobs, or it could be disastrous.

Those are the two primary and opposing views on President Barack Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

Dropping a key worker protection provision killed in a vote last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to grant the president authority to fast-track the trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations:

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Chile
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam

The bill now goes back to the Senate, which passed a version still linked to the worker protections, and negotiations are expected. In a press conference Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said he expected the package to be complete next week.

Proponents of the deal believe it will create jobs. A New York Times analysis explains the view of TPP supporters: Under the agreement, American companies could more successfully sell goods and services in participating countries, thereby strengthening the economy, creating more jobs and increasing incomes.

The office of U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who is an appointed member of the Executive Office of the President, describes the TPP as “a 21st-century trade agreement that will boost U.S. economic growth, support American jobs, and grow Made-in-America exports to some of the most dynamic and fastest-growing countries in the world.”

Opponents disagree. The AFL-CIO, for example, states on a page of its website devoted to the issue:

Unfortunately, it is becoming clear the TPP will not create jobs, protect the environment and ensure safe imports. Rather, it appears modeled after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a free-trade agreement where the largest global corporations benefit and working families are left behind.

According to the New York Times analysis, manufacturing workers could be the “losers” under the TPP.

Peter A. Petri, an international finance professor at Brandeis University and visiting fellow at the nonprofit Peterson Institute for International Economics, tells the Times he estimates that losses from trade in machinery, transport equipment and other manufacturing sectors would put the overall net effect of the TPP on the U.S. manufacturing industry at a loss of $39 billion by 2025.

The “winners” would be the U.S. services industries — such as insurance companies — which could contribute at least an extra $79 billion to the American economy.

The full details of the TPP remain largely unknown to the general public, however, as the text of the agreement is classified.

Only members of Congress and staffers with security clearance can access it, according to CNN:

This is how trade negotiations work. Fearful that they’ll undercut their own negotiators, leaders of the countries involved don’t want the details of what they’re hashing out revealed until the full package is completed. And it’s at the heart of the biggest criticism opponents of the deal have made publicly: the secrecy surrounding it.

WikiLeaks has released a few leaked draft chapters of the TPP, most recently a healthcare-related chapter last week. The agreement includes about 30 chapters, however.

What’s your take on the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Are you for or against it? Are you worried about it? Sound off with a comment below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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