The PJ Tatler

TPP Agreement Reached; Obama Vows Congress Will Have 'Months to Read Every Word'

President Obama this morning lauded the conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, vowing that once the 12 nations involved “have finalized the text of this partnership, Congress and the American people will have months to read every word before I sign it.”

“When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment,” Obama said in a statement.

“This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products. It includes the strongest commitments on labor and the environment of any trade agreement in history, and those commitments are enforceable, unlike in past agreements. It promotes a free and open Internet. It strengthens our strategic relationships with our partners and allies in a region that will be vital to the 21st century. It’s an agreement that puts American workers first and will help middle-class families get ahead.”

The president added that “if we can get this agreement to my desk, then we can help our businesses sell more Made in America goods and services around the world, and we can help more American workers compete and win.”

The White House released an extensive fact sheet saying that the TPP nixes more than 18,000 taxes that various countries impose on Made in America exports and “will result in the largest expansion of fully-enforceable labor rights in history, including renegotiating NAFTA.”

But Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasted the TPP agreement as “disastrous.”

“This agreement follows failed trade deals with Mexico, China and other low-wage countries that have cost millions of jobs and shuttered tens of thousands of factories across the United States,” Sanders said.

“In the Senate, I will do all that I can to defeat this agreement. We need trade policies that benefit American workers and consumers, not just the CEOs of large multi-national corporations.”

Obama’s trade agenda including “fast-track” authority passed Congress in June after a contentious battle that defied party lines.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is opposed to the TPP because of what the group calls a copyright trap.

“Since the public domain ought to provide a rich and diverse pool of works that constitutes our shared cultural heritage, every year that is stolen from it tightens the straightjacket of those who depend upon accessing it,” the EFF said last month, vowing to defeat a TPP that includes “a costly extension to their copyright term.” The administration wasn’t forthcoming on those specifics of the negotiated deal.

“It’s not just about protecting the interests of users and creativity, either. It’s also a dollars-and-cents argument for the countries concerned. Do the math: in a country like Malaysia, where less than 20% of music consumed is locally produced, that means that over 80% of the music royalties paid during the extended copyright term will be headed overseas with a negligible amount received in return. Similar figures apply to other countries and other cultural sectors.”

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who sits on the President’s Export Council, said the TPP “holds significant promise for America’s future as a leader in the world’s economy.”

“Here in my home state of Washington, our farmers, businesses, and workers heavily rely on international trade,” Reichert said. “Trade with TPP countries supports over 341,000 jobs in Washington and this is important because we know that jobs tied to trade on average pay 15-20% more.”