First we’ll break down the acronyms and explain what these Trade Agreements are all about. The first two, TAA and TPP are causing a lot of contention in Congress right now along with the term “Fast Track”. Hope this post will help you understand what is going on in Congress right now and why it is so important.
TAA: Trade Adjustment Assistance
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is a federal program of the United States government to act as a way to reduce the damaging impact of imports felt by certain sectors of the U.S. economy. The current structure features four components of Trade Adjustment Assistance: for Workers, Firms, Farmers, and Communities. Each Cabinet level Department was tasked with a different sector of the overall Trade Adjustment Assistance program. The program for workers is the largest, and administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program for Farmers is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Firms and Communities programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Trade Adjustment Assistance consists of four programs authorized under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and defined further under the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. § 2341 et seq) (Trade Act). The original idea for a trade compensation program goes back to 1939. Later, it was proposed by President John F. Kennedy as part of the total package to open up free trade. President Kennedy said: “When considerations of national policy make it desirable to avoid higher tariffs, those injured by that competition should not be required to bear the full brunt of the impact. Rather, the burden of economic adjustment should be borne in part by the Federal Government.” More at link
TPP: Trans-Pacific Partnership
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. As of 2014, twelve countries throughout the Asia Pacific region have participated in negotiations on the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
The proposed agreement began in 2005 as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4). Participating countries set the goal of wrapping up negotiations in 2012, but contentious issues such as agriculture, intellectual property, and services and investments have caused negotiations to continue into the present, with the last round meeting in Ottawa from 3–12 July 2014. Implementation of the TPP is one of the primary goals of the trade agenda of the Obama administration in the United States of America.
On 12 November 2011, the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership countries announced that the TPP intended to “enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, to promote innovation, economic growth and development, and to support the creation and retention of jobs.” Although the text of the treaty has not been made public, Wikileaks has published several leaked documents since 2013. A number of global health professionals, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organised labour, advocacy groups, and elected officials have criticised and protested against the treaty, in large part because of the secrecy of negotiations, the agreement’s expansive scope, and controversial clauses in drafts leaked to the public. More at link.
TTIP: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. Proponents say the agreement would result in multilateral economic growth, while critics say it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit. The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. After a proposed draft was leaked in March 2014, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a limited set of clauses and in January 2015 published parts of an overview.
An agreement is not expected to be finalized before 2016. More at link
FAST TRACK TRADE AGREEMENT:
The fast track negotiating authority for trade agreements is the authority of the President of the United States to negotiate international agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster. Also called trade promotion authority (TPA) since 2002, fast track negotiating authority is a temporary and controversial power granted to the President by Congress. The authority was in effect from 1975 to 1994, pursuant to the Trade Act of 1974, and from 2002 to 2007 by the Trade Act of 2002. Although it expired for new agreements on July 1, 2007, it continued to apply to agreements already under negotiation until they were eventually passed into law in 2011. In 2012, the Obama administration began seeking renewal of the authority. More at link
So far Congress has voted not to pass the TAA and TPP but the TPP is going to be reintroduced combined with “Fast Track”. Here’s more info on that from “Storm Clouds Gathering”
There is much wrong with the TPP and other Trade Agreements that will hurt the U.S. and it’s workers that we will discuss here. And Fast Tracking this, without debate and discussion, is a very bad idea.