Thursday, November 5, 2015

Obama’s New Trade Deal on The Fast Track

With Obama’s second term coming to an end, Obama tries to pass the 12-nation Pacific Rim Free Trade pact that has been in negotiations behind closed doors for over five years. The nations included are U.S (obviously), Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam and together they make up over 40% of the world’s global GDP. This pact (if it gets passed) is the highest-standard trade agreement in history. This trade deal has now been fully released to the public in hopes that the official agreement will persuade those who oppose it. People who oppose it range from Ford Motors to environmental groups and labor unions, and still do even after the release. Automobile manufactures oppose the TPP because it does not address currency manipulation, this can hurt American car companies because it enables countries like Japan to keep their cars at artificially low prices. Pharmaceutical companies complain because the deal only protects biomedical property for 8 years while in the U.S it is usually 12 years. Tobacco companies under this pact will have a harder time challenging anti-smoking campaigns abroad which can then hurt their sales. Environmental groups are opposing because it (under ISDS) allows multinational corporations and investors to bring cases against foreign governments over environmental, public health and other regulations (if they find that those rules cut into their profits) before international arbitration panels instead of U.S. courts. Leo Gerard (who is president of the United Steelworkers) stated that “the devil is in the details [of the TPP]” and that “[the TPP is] a knife in the heart of manufacturing”. However Obama states that “if you take a look at what’s actually in the TPP, you will see that this is, in fact, a new type of trade deal that puts American workers first”. The centerpiece is 18,000 tariff reductions on the U.S. These tariff reductions are on beef, pork, dairy, automobiles, and apparel which would open new markets for American exporters. However some of these tariffs would not be reduced immediately, they would be phased over several years. This pact also strives to extend copyright protections for high tech companies (such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley Internet firms). This part of the pact has the Motion Picture Association of America raving.
Obama has already formally notified Congress that he intends on signing the agreement, however he has to wait 90 days under the terms of the “fast track” trade powers. The “fast track” trade power gives Obama the authority to have the deal considered without the threat of amendments or filibusters.

Do you think the benefits of this pact are worth its potential downfalls? Why or why not?
Do you think this pact will get passed in time? Or do you think it will fall into the hands of whoever becomes the new president?
Do you think Obama is trying to pass this pact to leave behind a legacy for his presidency or do you think he is doing this because he believes this is truly best for the American people?

1 comment:

Jessica Yeh said...

I think that the strong opposition from such a broad range of interest groups will pose as a huge obstacle for the passing of this deal, but it is still quite probable that Congress will pass it.

Automobile manufacturers, brand-name pharmaceutical companies, the tobacco industry, labor unions, and environmental groups, though opposing the TPP for different reasons, have a huge amount of combined power and ties within Congress, so they may be able to sway the vote of legislators.

Also, as we learned in a previous unit, a president has the most support at the start of his term, and with Obama's term coming to an end, and public opinion of him is not as high as it was earlier. This means that members of Congress may be less likely to vote in favor of the TPP deal if their constituents are not as supportive of Obama's positions. Still, House members may vote along party lines as they frequently do.

Though the TPP, as some argue, could be a "knife in the heart of manufacturing," it provides great benefit to American exporters with tariff reductions. Labor unions argue that the TPP will send American jobs overseas, but it seems that it will increase jobs by increasing exports.