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March 04, 2013

Ahead of Singapore Round of Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations, U.S. Public Opposition to Deal Grows

More Than 400 Civil Society Groups Call for Transparency and Core Principles for International Economic Pacts, While the AFL-CIO Releases New Organizational Resolution Criticizing Direction and Process of TPP Talks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the sixteenth round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations slated to begin today in Singapore, opposition to the deal in the United States continues to mount. More than 400 groups representing a diverse range of causes – from labor rights, to environmental conservation, to public health, to Internet freedom and much more – have signed on to a letter to Congress calling the lack of transparency in TPP negotiations “inconsistent with democratic principles” and outlining expectations of how key issues should be addressed in commercial agreements of the 21st century.

Adding to the criticism, on February 27, the AFL-CIO released an executive council statement questioning the current path of TPP negotiations. It stated, “The United States cannot afford another trade agreement that hollows out our industrial base and adds to our substantial trade deficit.” It continued, “We do not need another trade deal that simply boosts corporate profits by encouraging offshoring good jobs while undermining wages, benefits and worker rights. We must do better.”

Members of Congress have been signaling their growing concern with the TPP process and substance with respect to threats to American manufacturing and Buy American procurement preferences, the undermining of Internet freedom and more.

President Barack Obama has called for completion of the TPP, which would be the largest U.S. trade agreement since the 1995 World Trade Organization, by early October. To date, Congress and the public have been denied access to draft texts of the massive pact, which has been under negotiation for three years.

Only five of the TPP’s 29 chapters pertain to traditional trade matters. The rest would set policies to which the U.S. Congress and state legislatures would be required to conform U.S. non-trade policies relating to regulation of energy and other services, financial regulation, food safety, procurement policy, patents and copyright policy, and more.

The draft pact also includes NAFTA-style foreign investor rules that facilitate job offshoring by removing many of the risks and costs of relocating U.S. production to low-wage countries. Among TPP negotiating countries is Vietnam, the lower cost offshoring alternative to China.

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