11 May

Just where is the Trans Pacific Partnership fast track going?

You could see the case for both fast track authority, for Congress voting on the Trans Pacific Partnership without amendments, and for the trade agreement itself. After years of negotiation with 11 other countries, it would be hard to reopen everything with a fistful of congressional amendments.

The treaty itself could strengthen the United States’ position in Asia, and get us more access to money-spending markets like Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Chile – very useful for a state like Oregon, that lives on trade and agricultural exports.

And if there were problems with previous trade agreements about labor and environmental arrangements, we’re assured that the negotiations on the TPP have taken care of those issues.

But we don’t know that. Everything in the treaty is secret – although major trading corporations seem to have a pretty good idea what’s in it – and we don’t know anything about it, except that the Obama administration wants it passed fast.

That shouldn’t be enough.

The decision of whether to adopt fast track is the beginning of the decision on whether to accept the Trans Pacific Partnership itself. That decision has to be based on information, not about trust in the Obama administration or resentment about past trade agreements.

Because on the fast track, you can go off the rails.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 5/9/15.

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