The Trans-Pacific Partnership: The NAFTA of the Pacific

Labor groups and anti-free trade activists are stepping up their efforts to shape a massive trade pact that could end up dwarfing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

According to People’s World, activists are demanding that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership include protections for worker’s rights and the environment.

Currently involved in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. U.S. officials have also floated the possibility of adding Malaysia, Canada, Japan, Peru and South Korea.

The deal, however, would do little to improve the lives of the average citizen in those places. On this side of the Pacific, it will inevitably result in increased imports and job losses.

“Wall Street wants more financial deregulation and sees this agreement as a mechanism to get it. Beyond that though is the obvious interest in big corporations being able to shift jobs around the globe to wherever labor is the most exploited and environmental regulations are the weakest,” Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, told Color Line.

“A free trade agreement with Vietnam and Malaysia and Brunei would make it easier for corporations to do so, driving down wages and benefits for most working people, not only in Chicago or the United States, but everywhere. It’s a cycle that has to stop.”

America does not run a trade deficit with all of the nations involved in talks, although bilateral trade with each presents its own set of problems.

Last year, America amassed a $12 billion trade deficit with Malaysia.

One estimate by the National Milk Producers Federation predicts that U.S. dairy producers could lose as much as $20 billion over the first 10 years of the deal because of New Zealand’s anti-competitive practices in the industry.

From 2000 through 2009, the U.S. trade deficit with Japan has totaled roughly $738.7 billion – nearly the size of the entire stimulus package.

“When negotiations take place in the shadows they are a huge benefit to corporations, because they talk among themselves,” Stamoulis told Color Line.

“But if we can drag the negotiations into the public light, it will send a message that enough is enough. We’ll either get a fair deal or no deal.”

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