We can't afford to repeat the pitfalls of NAFTA
After nearly a decade of secret negotiations, twelve Asia- Pacific countries reached a historic free trade agreement on Oct. 5, 2015. The goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is to reduce and eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers on goods, services and agriculture throughout the Pacific Rim. Additionally, this agreement establishes trade rules that directly address global economic issues and expand on current World Trade Organization commitments. All of this sounds good, but is it?
In 2012, Hillary Clinton claimed that TPP was "the gold standard" of trade agreements. Now she has pulled a 180 and does not support it after finding out more and more about what is in the agreement. I don't know the motives for her change in position but, to my surprise, we both agree.
The more that comes to light about the largest regional free trade agreement ever negotiated by the United States in terms of member countries and encompassed trade flows, the more I feel that this is not a good deal for America.
I am all in favor of growing the American economy and engaging in trade with the world, but not at the expense of American workers. The North American Free Trade Agreement is a perfect example of this. Ask the textile workers of North Carolina how NAFTA worked out for them — if you can find any.
While FTAs have benefits, they also have pitfalls that we must be careful not to step in. Given the historical impact of this legislation and the profound economic impact that this trade deal will have on the U.S., it is only prudent that every member of Congress takes ample time to review this deal. I am more interested in fair and balanced trade between nations than I am in free trade that encumbers us in a multinational pact that is refereed by the WTO.
According to the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, the TPP will eliminate more than 18,000 taxes various countries levy on "Made-in-America" exports — including all tariffs on U.S. manufactured exports. The ITA further claims that almost 98 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer exports to the new TPP countries will be eligible for immediate duty-free treatment.
This all sounds great on the surface. But lofty promises such as these were sold when NAFTA was being negotiated. So it is only prudent that I, along with my colleagues in the House and Senate, take our time and go through the agreement and speak to as many of the affected industries and businesses as possible. We don't want to repeat the unintended consequences that surfaced following the NAFTA agreement.
Before the text was released to the public, I, along with Reps. Duncan Hunter, Marcy Kaptur and a host of other members of Congress signed onto a letter urging President Obama and his administration to release the text of the agreement immediately. Two days later, it was released. We felt this was necessary so we would not be forced into making a hasty decision that would entangle our nation in a UN-run trade organization like the WTO.
Doing this is a sure fire way to erode our nation's sovereignty. Multi-lateral trade agreements, like TPP, are enticing but may prove to be not what is best for America. We do not want, nor can we afford to repeat, the pitfalls of NAFTA.