Set the Record Straight on TPP

Despite a tidal wave of public opposition, the architects of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue to push the pact hard in the hopes of seeing it passed this year.  Today, administration officials are trying to spin a new U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) study about the TPP as supportive of the agreement.  We need your help correcting the record with Members of Congress.  

Please contact your Congress members now — in the wake of the harmful claims about the new ITC report — and urge them to publicly oppose the TPP.  

For years, the TPP was negotiated in the shadows.  The public and press were barred from knowing what negotiators were proposing in Americans’ names, while literally hundreds of corporate lobbyists — representing firms like Walmart, Chevron and Cargill — were given special “cleared advisor” status that granted them privileged access to the texts and to negotiators.  If they weren’t writing the TPP provisions themselves, they were at least looking over negotiators’ shoulders, saying, “No, no, no. Don’t do that. Try this instead.”

When the negotiations concluded late last year and changes became all-but-impossible, we finally got to see the results of this corrupt process.  Among other very serious problems, the TPP text would make it easier for big corporations to offshore American jobs and push down wages due to the trading partners in the agreement, investor protections that promote offshoring, weak rules of origin, absent currency safeguards and inadequate labor and environmental standards.  

Earlier this year, thousands of Americans submitted testimony to the ITC asking that its then-forthcoming study of the TPP avoid unrealistic assumptions in its economic modeling, such as full employment, neutral trade balances and static income inequality; that assess how anticipated export gains under the TPP could be wiped out by currency manipulation; that it take into account how weak rules of origin in the TPP could affect U.S. jobs and wages; and that it investigate how increased fossil fuel exports could increase energy costs for U.S. producers and consumers.

Rather than fully embracing them, the ITC’s recent TPP study only made the slightest of nods to these commonsense suggestions. Nonetheless, buried beneath the rosy headlines, the study actually found that in the TPP’s first fifteen years:

  • The United States’ global trade deficit would increase by $21.7 billion;
  • That we’d see a worsened balance of trade in 16 out of the 25 specific product areas it chose to feature, including everything from auto parts to corn to financial services;
  • That there would be a decline in output for U.S. manufacturing, natural resources and energy of $10.8 billion; and
  • That even the U.S. balance in trade services would worsen by $2.2 billion.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Please urge your Congress members to oppose the TPP in the face of misinformation about the ITC’s new study.

What the TPP boosters are promoting about the ITC study is its projection that the pact would increase U.S. economic growth.  What they fail to mention is that the ITC study finds that this growth would be a paltry 0.15% by the year 2032.  In other words, the United States would be as wealthy on February 15, 2032 without the TPP as it would be on January 1, 2032 with it.  

That the ITC is projecting such minuscule benefits from the TPP is telling, given its long track record of grossly overestimating the benefits and underestimating the costs of trade agreements.  

Going all the way back to the 1990s, the ITC predicted that NAFTA would improve the U.S. trade surplus with Mexico and boost U.S. employment.  Instead under NAFTA, the United States’ $2.6 billion surplus in traded goods with Mexico has reversed course into a $106 billion deficit, and the Labor Department certified approximately 845,000 American jobs as lost under the deal.  The ITC similarly overestimated the benefits of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China in the early 2000s.

Much more recently, the ITC predicted that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement would cut the U.S. bilateral trade deficit with South Korea in half.  Instead under the Korea deal, U.S. exports decreased by 9 percent, imports from Korea increased by 19 percent and our goods trade deficit with South Korea has approximately doubled.  With the ITC warning us the costs to the TPP are real and the benefits minimal, it’s time for policymakers to reject this misguided pact and move on.

Don’t let Congress take misleading spin about the ITC study at face value.  Please write your Congress members now, correcting the record about the TPP and urging them to vote against it.