Big news this morning — no, not the firing of Nationals Manager Matt Williams (I’m fine with that, by the way; now need to get rid of Papel-bonehead as well), but the deal reached on the enormous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. I studied international economics in graduate school, and
the brainwashing much of what I learned regarding the benefits of trade still sticks with me. On the other hand, over the years, I’ve become increasingly concerned with the potential impacts of trade deals – or more to the point, poorly-conceived and/or poorly-executed trade deals – on: a) human rights; b) the environment; c) labor rights. The way I see it today is that the economic benefits of trade, on balance, are still an important consideration in considering whether or not to support trade deals like the TPP, but they absolutely must be weighed with those other considerations as well.
With that, here’s some information I’m seeing this morning that’s not determinitive, but which does make me feel more encouraged about TPP than I did a few weeks/months ago.
- The New York Times reports that at least some environmental groups are strongly praising this deal. For instance, a top official at the World Wildlife Fund says that the “provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership go beyond what we have seen in other trade agreements,”
- According to that same NY Times article, those environmental protection provisions include: “a requirement that the pact’s signers abide by existing environmental treaties, which have few enforcement provisions…along with new methods of enforcement” while placing “new limits on wildlife trafficking and subsidies for illegal fishing” and requiring countries to “enforce laws and regulations to protect wildlife covered under the [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – Cites] agreement from illegal smuggling, or risk economic sanctions.” All of which looks great, at least on paper, although obviously – as environmental groups point out – “the impact would be only as good as participants’ willingness to enforce it.”
- Meanwhile, the White House has put out a Fact Sheet on the TPP, which makes the case for why they believe this deal represents, among other things, a “new, high-standard trade agreement that levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses, supporting more Made in America exports and higher-paying American jobs.”
- With regard to environmental protection, the White House argues that this deal contains the “highest environmental standards of any trade agreement in history…upgrades NAFTA, putting environmental protections at the core of the agreement, and making those obligations fully enforceable through the same type of dispute settlement as other obligations.”
- The White House further makes the case that the TPP includes “the highest labor standards of any trade agreement in history,” “cutting-edge rules to promote Internet-based commerce – a central area of American leadership,” and the “strongest standards for transparency and anticorruption of any trade agreement in history.”
- I am concerned that the Sierra Club strongly opposes this deal, as does Sen. Bernie Sanders.