Friday, July 12, 2013

Halt Fast Track and Support Fair Trade Across the Pacific

Halt Fast Track and Support Fair Trade Across the Pacific

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free-trade agreement currently in development between the United States and eleven other countries that make up the Pacific Rim. Although the actual text of the agreement is unknown to most Americans (save a small slew of corporate negotiators) the agreement will have a widespread global impact. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan have all participated in negations for the agreement. Together, this partnership will encompass 40% of all global trade.

Learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership from our friends at the Citizens Trade Campaign:

To expedite the process of passing this agreement, Congress will be voting on whether or not to grant President Obama "Fast Track" or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to pass the agreement with limited congressional review. Created by Richard Nixon's administration in 1974, Fast Track authority grants the president special privileges to write and sign trade legislation that Congress cannot amend or filibuster. This legislation strips Congress of its constitutional authority to "regulate commerce with foreign nations."

If Congress chooses to grant the president Fast Track authority on this issue, only the president and certain corporate advisors will have the power to negotiate this impactful piece of legislation. Although trade partnerships are usually driven by economic incentives, agreements of this scale can have severe effects that extend beyond trade and commerce. Partnerships such as the TPP intertwine global markets, strengthen relationships as a step forward towards globalization, and affect the daily lives of billions of people worldwide. The General Assembly has recognized these wide-ranging effects, and stresses that "globalization [also] includes spiritual, cultural, political, and human welfare dimensions." Thus, the Presbyterian Church calls upon the leading countries of the world to engage in transparent and fair trade agreements that will ensure "a particular kind of globalization that reflects justice, community, and sustainability for all creation" (

The president has indicated that he would like to conclude TPP negotiations this fall, and a vote on granting the president Trade Promotion Authority may be coming in the near future. If Congress agrees to provide the president with this authority, the United States will enter into the Trans-Pacific Partnership without a proper consideration of the terms of the agreement and virtually zero transparency for the American public.

We believe that granting Fast Track authority to the president could make our country enter into a calamitous agreement that will violate the sovereignty of other governments as well as our own. If this agreement follows the path of former agreements, it will authorize the validity of investor-state disputes where foreign corporations can sue governments for passing legislation that is harmful to their profits. Along with the potential damage from investor-state disputes, the partnership will most likely continue to increase the export of American jobs overseas.

To truly know what the text of the partnership entails, it is necessary for Congress to deny the president Fast Track authority over this partnership and enable a dialogue among citizens and legislators about what the American people want out of our foreign trade relations.

Take action to halt "Fast Track" Trade Promotion Authority on this issue. Let your members of Congress know your concerns and urge them to support an option that is actually free, fair, and transparent!

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