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  • What’s Wrong With the TPP? Ask Steelworkers President Leo Gerard
    Posted On: Sep 01, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers

    [Leo Gerard]: “The TPP is a terrible deal.  Pick an issue.”

    That’s United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard on the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries.  Organized labor is pushing to prevent the passage of the agreement during the lame-duck session following November’s elections, saying it would harm workers both in the U.S. and abroad.  So what’s wrong with the TPP?  We took Gerard up on his offer to ‘pick an issue’, starting with what it says about Rules-of-Origin:

    [Leo Gerard]: “It, in fact, makes rules of origin issues even worse.  As long as 45 percent of a product for an automobile comes from a TPP country, it can enter duty free.  So that means you get your auto parts made in Vietnam and Brunei and Malaysia and enter into the North American Market duty free.  So, the fact that 45 percent can come from a TPP country when it comes to rules-of-origin for parts, that actually means that 55 percent can come from anywhere, so China gets a seat at the TPP table without ever being there.”

    The Steelworkers are also concerned that the TPP doesn’t do enough to combat currency manipulation:

    [Leo Gerard]: “We know that the Chinese manipulate their currency.  We know that the Japanese also manipulate their currency to the extent that they get almost a five or six thousand dollar advantage shipping a car from Japan to the U.S. than we get buying a car that’s made in the U.S.”

    It doesn’t stop there.  Gerard noted several other deficiencies in the agreement:

    [Leo Gerard]: “Not only does it not have labor concerns, in many cases, it’s actually worse.  It’s got no meaningful labor enforcement.  There’s not enough language to do environmental enforcement.  The pro-free-trade TPP people are saying that now each country has to have a minimum wage.  Well, if the Minimum wage is set at 35 cents, it doesn’t make much difference, does it?  We’re concerned about all those issues in the TPP.”

    The Steelworkers have been involved in several cases challenging the dumping of steel on the U.S. market at below-market prices.  Along with similar dumping of products such as tires and paper, this has hurt American industry, lowered wages and threatened as many as half-a-million U.S. jobs.  Gerard says the TPP would make enforcement of these trade regulations even more difficult:

    [Leo Gerard]: “It doesn’t hold anybody accountable for state-owned enterprises that don’t run on a business model and are clearly subsidized.  Still waiting out there is whether or not China will get market economy status.  They don’t deserve it.  They haven’t proven that they’re a market economy, but even if they were to not pass the TPP, but give China market economy status, that would be much harder for trade enforcement.  So, we’re coming at it from every angle we can.  You go through all the pieces of the TPP proposal and there’s no country that comes out worse than America.”

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