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Trans-Pacific Partnership Misconceptions Addressed

"Leaders of TPP Member States" by Gobierno de Chile - 14.11.2010 Gira a Asia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

On Tuesday, October 9th 2015, the United States and the eleven other countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] finally reached a deal on the planned Free Trade Agreement. While this is great news for the international trade community, only half of the battle has been won. Now Obama must redirect his energies domestically to convince Congress and the general public that the TPP is good deal for the United States and its workers. Free trade deals are commonly decried by the left as a corporate-driven mechanism by which “the rich get richer” and everyday American jobs are sent overseas. Much of this stance is emboldened by the fact that critics of NAFTA, the North-American Free Trade Agreement, have been highly skeptical of its advantages and critical of its detrimental effects on the American workforce. Whether or not that’s a fair characterization contains an element of subjectivity, but not all free trade deals are created equal, and the merits of TPP must be looked at independently of any misgivings about NAFTA to determine if this is a good deal for the American people.

An oft-cited and viable concern about NAFTA was its inability to address environmental or labor rights issues. Although the deal gave a nod to these two concerns by putting them in a side-letter, this effort proved to be fruitless as those provisions were not enforceable. The TPP tackles this issue head on, including higher environmental and labor rights standards within the deal itself[1]. Per President Obama, “It’s the highest-standard, most progressive trade deal in history. It’s got strong, enforceable provisions for workers, preventing things like child labor. It’s got strong, enforceable provisions on the environment, helping us