LULAC and Trade: What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Posted on 05/16/2015 @ 12:45 AM

Tags: immigration, policy

Photo Credit: Andrew Gavin Marshall

By: Tyler Crowe, Policy and Legislation Fellow, LULAC National

As one of the 21st century’s most comprehensive international free trade pacts, understanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is critical to understanding how the global economy affects your community, bank account, and job.

Unfortunately, we don’t have much to work with. Of writing, only members of Congress, the President, the Trade Ambassador, and representatives of many American companies are allowed to see it entirely –and under tight security at that. What’s more, they are forbidden from speaking publicly about the TPP’s specifics. According to a brief public outline the TPP would, if passed by every party country, mandate universal trade standards and reduce tariffs (taxes) on imports and exports.

The most recent LULAC action on these kinds of agreements was in 2011, when our membership passed a resolution opposing a series of free trade agreements between the U.S. and South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. In their place, we advocated the need for “a new U.S. trade policy that creates living wages, sustainable jobs for people in the U.S. and trade partner countries while promoting democracy, human rights, labor standards, a healthy environment, and access to essential services.”

Businesses see free trade deals as an opportunity to lower costs throughout their supply chain. There are, however, human costs to rapid economic changes –and they affect some people more than others. Transparency issues aside, opposition to the TPP is rooted in this basic fact.

As far as labor advocates are concerned, free trade agreements are an excuse for large corporations to skirt laws, shed workers, and skip taxes. Environmentalists fear that issues like overfishing, logging, and poaching aren’t sufficiently discouraged. When it’s all said and done, these groups recognize that people’s livelihoods will be affected.

Trade is important for any nation to thrive. So important, in fact, that the only nation that claims to be completely self-sufficient is the hermit kingdom of North Korea. Such an extreme is, no doubt, not a sustainable growth model. As an organization of action, LULAC believes that the best trade system is one that is clear, deliberate, and equitable. That said, we strongly support public scrutiny of not just the TPP, but US trade policy in general – for the benefit of all people.

Tyler Crowe is a Policy and Legislation Fellow at the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington, D.C. He specializes in issues related to the economy, resources, and good governance. He received a BA in Chinese Language and Culture and a Certificate in International Agriculture and Natural Resources from the University of Maryland-College Park.

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