Reading the Democratic National Committee (DNC) platform paragraphs on trade, one might believe that trade and trade agreements have been an overall negative for the United States, its entrepreneurs and its workers. Indeed, that is the apparent belief of many in labor and other organizations that are opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
In reality, the massive growth of trade and U.S. participation in helping create the World Trade Organization (WTO) and leading the conclusion of 14 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 countries over the past half century have spurred a quadrupling of U.S. exports of made-in-the-USA manufactured goods. Those exports and other rules have helped advance a quadrupling of U.S. manufacturing output. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have moved out of abject poverty into a growing middle class, which is vital in its own right but also provides new and needed growth opportunities for the most-productive manufacturing sector in the world—our own.
The platform describes many things that trade agreements should and shouldn’t do. A quick review shows that the TPP meets every single one of the DNC platform’s objectives; yet, unfortunately, the platform fails to endorse the TPP.
|DNC Platform||TPP Provisions|
|“Any future trade agreements must make sure our trading partners cannot undercut American workers by taking shortcuts on labor policy or the environment.”
“We believe any new trade agreements must include strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards in their core text with streamlined and effective enforcement mechanisms.”
|The TPP includes the most extensive labor and environment provisions of any U.S. trade agreement, requiring countries to adopt and enforce domestically the types of International Labour Organization, international environmental agreement and other standards that U.S. labor and environment groups have long cheered.
The TPP provides new levers to address with labor and environmental violations that otherwise would not exist: if countries fail to meet their extensive obligations, they will face dispute settlement proceedings and potentially trade sanctions.
|“They must not undermine democratic decision-making through special privileges and private courts for corporations.”
“We should never enter into a trade agreement that prevents our government, or other governments, from putting in place rules that protect the environment, food safety or the health of American citizens or others around the world.”
|The TPP promotes U.S. democratic values in many ways, including by:
· Explicitly affirming the rights of governments to regulate in the public interest;
· Providing any individual, organization or business the ability to protect their property located abroad through a neutral forum, but that forum cannot overturn any law or regulation; and
· Ensuring food safety and other regulatory and standards provisions are developed in a science-based manner as we do in the United States.
|“Trade negotiations must be transparent and inclusive.”||The TPP was negotiated with strong public consultations with stakeholders of all types, with public hearings, public comments and more than 1,800 congressional briefings.
The full text of the TPP has been available since November 2015 for all members of Congress and the public to read.
|“We will oppose trade agreements that do not support good American jobs, raise wages and improve our national security.”||The TPP eliminates all foreign tariffs on U.S.-manufactured exports in the 11 TPP countries and eliminates other discriminatory and unfair barriers. The TPP also sets high standards based on the U.S. Constitution, laws and regulations to promote a more level playing field and help manufacturers and other businesses and their workers compete more successfully.|
|“Trade agreements should crack down on the unfair and illegal subsidies other countries grant their businesses at the expense of ours.”||Combatting unfair subsidies is dealt with explicitly as part of the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, which currently applies to all TPP countries and 161 other countries around the world, and the TPP in no way undermines countries’ WTO obligations. Furthermore, the TPP adds new anti-subsidy disciplines by prohibiting subsidies to foreign state-owned enterprises, as well as other disciplines to ensure such enterprises do not receive or give unfair advantages to our competitors.|
|“It should promote innovation of and access to lifesaving medicines.”||The TPP advances innovation by ensuring that innovation is protected, including with new provisions that criminalize the growing theft of trade secrets, as well as strong provisions on the protection of U.S. patents, trademarks and copyrights.
The TPP could have and should go further in protecting the innovation climate that will spur development and dissemination of lifesaving medicines. Strong intellectual property protections have, indeed, fostered the creation of 91 percent of all available medicines.
|“And it should protect a free and open internet.”||The TPP makes major advances in promoting a free and open internet not seen in any other trade agreement, including through:
· Preserving the right of individuals and businesses and organizations of all sizes to access and move data and be forced to store data locally; and
· Promoting public participation and transparency in the development of laws and regulations affecting the internet.
For manufacturers in the United States to continue to grow and to sustain and add new high-skilled and good-paying American jobs, we need new demand for our products. It’s that simple. Manufacturers need access to new markets without discriminatory and unfair barriers. That is what trade agreements like the TPP will do.