Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will likely be back in the news at least for a brief moment next week, when the treaty comes up for a formal signing ceremony involving representatives of the 12 participating countries, including the United States.
The agreement has largely been out of the news since the release of the text in early November. President Obama did mentioned it briefly in his State of the Union address earlier in January. Other than that, there have been no dramatic headlines.
Meanwhile, the public and much of Congress remain solidly opposed to the agreement -- as have presidential candidates in both political parties. That, hopefully, means the politics do not line up for a vote on the agreement before the 2016 election. But there's always the risk that Wall Street will find a way to force a vote sooner. So people should continue pressing Congress to oppose the TPP.
Formal Signing Feb. 4 In New Zealand
The date for the big signing ceremony for TPP was announced last week. It will be Feb. 4 in Auckland, New Zealand. Ministers from participating countries, including U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, will participate.
Note that this ceremony does not "trigger" any timeline forcing Congress to vote within a certain number of legislature-in-session days. That clock starts when President Obama submits authorising legislation to Congress.
Report On TPP's Economic Effect
Next up for the U.S. process is the International Trade Commission's (ITC) report on TPP's economic impact. The commission is expected to produce this report by May 18.
The Washington Post PowerPost explained what's happening with the ITC in "Independent agency holds big sway over TPP trade deal":
"For three consecutive days last week, in eight-minute segments spanning nine hours each day, lobbyists for some of the nation's biggest corporations, labor unions and trade groups testified before the panel of six appointed bureaucrats.
"They included lobbyists for Walmart and Gap Inc., who praised the deal for lowering tariffs on beef, cheese, pencil cases and cotton sweaters. Leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers framed the pact as a chance for U.S. companies to sell more goods abroad. Representatives for the AFL-CIO, United Steel Workers and other unions urged the commission to consider the deal's potential to erode labor conditions and wages."
Corporate lobbyists might frame TPP as "a chance for U.S. companies to sell more goods abroad" because they have to say that in public. What they really mean is that TPP will encourage them to lay off even more U.S. workers, close even more U.S. factories and move even more production to countries with near-slave-labor conditions and no costly protections for the environment. This offshoring lets them pocket the wage and protection differential while enabling them to use havens to dodge U.S. taxes.
Studies by outside groups have determined that whatever TPP's economic effect is for Wall Street and U.S. multinational corporations, it will not by favorable for U.S. workers or the economy. For example, from December, "Important Report Says TPP 'Skews Benefits To Economic Elites'":
"The congressionally created Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy (LAC) has just released a scathing report that urges President Obama 'in the strongest possible terms' to send the Trans-Pacific Partnership 'back to the negotiating table' instead of to Congress, saying the treaty 'will harm our economy overall.'
"...'The TPP is likely to harm U.S. manufacturing interests, cost good jobs, suppress wages, and threaten our democracy and economic security interests,' the report said."