By Robert Romano
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will provide new market access for Made-in-America goods and services.”
That is the U.S. Trade Representative’s description of a new proposed trade agreement between the U.S. and Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, which the White House is asking Congress for fast track authority to negotiate.
There is one problem with the description, namely, the U.S. already exports some $861.2 billion worth of goods and services to the aforementioned nations every year, as of 2012.
Specifically, in 2012, the U.S. exported $48 billion of goods and services to Australia, $559 million to Brunei Darussalam, $354 billion to Canada, $22 billion to Chile, $116 billion to Japan, $15 billion to Malaysia, $243 billion to Mexico, $5.2 billion to New Zealand, $9.4 billion to Peru, $43 billion to Singapore, and $5 billion to Vietnam.
That’s right, U.S. exporters already have access to markets in all of the nations, accounting for almost 40 percent of the $2.2 trillion of U.S. exports worldwide that year.
So why does President Barack Obama need fast track authority to negotiate a trade agreement with countries we’re already so substantially trading to? What’s the rush?
The U.S. Trade Representative also promises that TPP will provide “strong and enforceable labor standards and environmental commitments.”
Except, even pro-Obama groups like the AFL-CIO say that’s not true, writing, “[R]ecent trade deals, like the World Trade Organization trade deal, had no labor or environmental standards.”
That is to say, labor groups object to free trade agreements because other nations refuse to adopt the same high regulatory standards on the environment and labor costs that the U.S. has — leaving American workers at a disadvantage.
Which is a very good point. Nobody expects Malaysia to adopt our minimum wage, or Australia to regulate coal to death the way the Environmental Protection Agency has here.
Why would they? It willfully puts themselves at a competitive disadvantage globally, tantamount to an economic suicide pact. It’s not going to happen.
So why is the U.S. Trade Representative pretending otherwise?
And why is the Republican-controlled Congress so anxious to surrender the Senate’s constitutional prerogative to amend trade agreements? Or believe that Obama with the free hand afforded by fast-track will negotiate in the country’s best interests?
That is why in a joint letter with Eagle Forum, Tea Party Patriots, Andrew McCarthy, the Center for Security Policy, TheTeaParty.net, and Tea Party Nation, Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens told members of Congress, “In light of this President’s disregard for Congressional prerogatives, it would be inexcusable for Congress to provide this President with any additional power.”
The letter adds, “Given the fact that the TPP has largely been negotiated in secret with only the Administration’s multi-national stakeholder partners involved, it is Congress’ duty to examine every jot and note to ensure that American interests are protected.”
And since the U.S. already ships almost $1 trillion of exports to these countries, there is no rush and no need to fast track these agreements.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.