The New American was among the media outlets invited to a telephone press conference hosted by the Sierra Club on December 5. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the topic of the event.

Five members of Congress participated in the presser, each of whom voiced concerns about the still-secret proposed trade pact. Ilana Solomon, the director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, moderated the call with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).

The representatives expressed their concerns leading up to this weekend’s last-minute meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Singapore. While the goal of the meeting is to announce that a final deal has been reached, many fundamental provisions remain unresolved, including some that directly impact the authority of Congress to regulate international commerce.
One of the key issues yet to be resolved in the trade pact is around currency manipulation, the process by which countries reduce the value of their currency in order to encourage exports.

“Currency manipulation has expanded the U.S. trade deficit and cost us jobs,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “Several countries involved in the TPP negotiations have a history of or are currently manipulating their exchange rates to promote their exports at the expense of American workers. Congress has made clear that currency disciplines are critical to leveling the playing field for American workers and that not including them in the TPP would be a slap in the face to those workers. Any deal announced that does not address this issue is not a deal in the eyes of Congress, which has the final say when it comes to trade.”

During the discussions, Representative Miller worried that American labor laws would be subordinated to foreign control and that the pact might result in the emaciation of the economic and manufacturing power of the United States.

“If the United States doesn’t insist on stronger, enforceable worker protections in the TPP, American workers will pay the price as more jobs are moved offshore and countries provide ever-fewer protections in a global race to the bottom,” said Miller said. “Past trade deals have given lip service to protecting workers, while allowing conditions on the ground to deteriorate. This time, labor protections need to be integrated into the TPP itself, not put in a side deal, in order to make international human rights a concrete reality for more people around the world.”

In the “intellectual property” portion of the pact leaked in November by WikiLeaks, U.S. copyright laws and standards are also altered by the proposed TPP agreement.

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