Overlooked: The Labor Provisions in the TPP


China’s New Silk Road

Negotiated in confidence, the TPP has become a catch-all scapegoat for US economic ills and those for or against the TTP miss its important groundbreaking features.

A debate should be conducted over US trade policy—the hard details of how it is regulated, funded, protected, expanded, promoted and opened to small businesses in the global environment. But what is the real connection between trade, corporations,and jobs? Does trade move jobs?

US corporations shift manufacturing and assembly jobs offshore; the TPP does not stop or accelerate this trend–only a change in domestic business regulation will end it.

The TPP supports American labor in two ways: it cuts more than 18,000 taxes on American-made products, raising demand for American goods by lowering costs. The TPP also is the first global agreement to require standards for wages and working conditions; it prohibits forced labor and child labor, extreme hours and mandates safety and health standards. It allows any signatory nation to contest violations by other nations. Only 4 countries currently have such an agreement, the TPP adds 10 countries, among the worst offenders.

Why care about international labor? Because labor wages improve as the bottom is raised. Raising the bottom actually makes the US more completive: US skills add greater value.

If the trade provisions of the TPP are bad, its labor provisions are a good start for future progress and help secure American jobs. These provisions should be saved.

While not perfect by any means (each nation determines its own standards, the labor provisions are an important first step to addressing global labor inequities being structurally maintained by national boundaries. An ingenuous design allows other countries to cite violations, adding a check and balance to watchdog monitoring (although the nations might mutually collude to ignore violations!), and it gives the US an agreed path of dispute resolution regarding foreign labor violations.

Without a firm focus on job growth and global wages, the global infra-structure initiative that China is undertaking–its One Belt, One Road Project–the new Silk Road, building ports, rails, and facilities throughout Asia and Africa, will give it a superior position in the global economy, creating a gap the US will be unable to close as it sees trade growth stifled.


Without change internationally, US wages will remain low. The economy doesn’t grow from the middle out (Obama’s misdirected slogan), but from the bottom up (validated by history). Good paying middle class jobs depend upon strong wage growth in the bottom tier!

The Rage Against Trade http://nyti.ms/2bckwJ1  (Click to read replies.)



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