Pacific Trade and Worker Rights – The New York Times

“Obama administration officials say the T.P.P. goes further on labor standards than those earlier pacts. For example, the T.P.P.’s labor chapter requires all 12 countries to adopt minimum wage, working hour and occupational safety regulations. That is an improvement, but it could turn out to be mostly symbolic because the agreement does not specify how countries should set minimum wages. Nor does it establish any minimum standard for safety regulations.Experts say the most important labor provisions are found in side agreements the Obama administration reached with Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei individually to address specific problems like barriers to union organizing and the treatment of immigrant workers from countries like Myanmar. These countries will have to change their labor laws in specific ways before they are allowed to export goods duty-free to the United States.The agreement with Vietnam, a country run by a communist government, would require that workers be permitted to form independent unions that are not affiliated with the Communist Party and would have the right to bargain collectively and to strike. This should help workers who have been exploited to demand better pay and better working conditions.”

Source: Pacific Trade and Worker Rights – The New York Times

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached – The New York Times

“ATLANTA — The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, a potentially precedent-setting model for global commerce and worker standards that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia.The Trans-Pacific Partnership still faces months of debate in Congress and will inject a new flash point into both parties’ presidential contests.But the accord — a product of nearly eight years of negotiations, including five days of round-the-clock sessions here — is a potentially legacy-making achievement for President Obama, and the capstone for his foreign policy “pivot” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa.Mr. Obama spent recent days contacting world leaders to seal the deal. Administration officials have repeatedly pressed their contention that the partnership would build a bulwark against China’s economic influence, and allow the United States and its allies — not Beijing — to set the standards for Pacific commerce.”

The comments at the Times are atrocious. Why the negativity towards this work of the Obama Administration, before we actually know most of the details? If most of the administrations claims are true, this will be a historic step in making it easier to sell US products into the Pacific rim counties. I read months ago, that Vietnam has giant tariffs against US auto parts, 80% or something like that. Many such deal breaking barriers are to come down.
Meanwhile, China is the new elephant in the room, and this deal, according to the Obama Administration, is to ensure that the US leads on trade policy development in the Pacific rim, instead of allowing China to take over because of its size and growing wealth. The effort deserves our support. The deal itself deserves careful consideration, when finally published.
The idea that it was behind closed doors to screw the 99% is a bit over the top. These trade agreements are traditionally behind closed doors, so the representatives involved can argue, and speak their minds. The trade representatives do not want the special interests sabotaging their discussion and effort, while they seek painful compromise.

Source: Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached – The New York Times