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TPP officially dead amid calls for trade rules benefiting workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 24, 2017) — President Donald Trump formally abandoned the embattled Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday, a proposed 12-nation deal on trade and corporate rights dubbed “NAFTA on steroids” that was negotiated and signed by the Obama administration in October 2015. Facing opposition from both the political left and right, the controversial deal lacked enough support to pass Congress since that time. Trump has also announced his intention to negotiate changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

On Monday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement:

“Last year, a powerful coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, public health and allied groups came together to stop the TPP. Today’s announcement that the U.S. is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people. While these are necessary actions, they aren’t enough. They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy. We will continue our relentless campaign to create new trade and economic rules that end special privileges for foreign investors and Big Pharma, protect our planet’s precious natural resources and ensure fair pay, safe conditions and a voice in the workplace for all workers.”

Here in Washington state, where members of Congress from both parties tend to support “free trade” deals, only Democratic Reps. Adam Smith and Denny Heck had formally announced their opposition to the TPP. The rest either actively supported it, like Republican Reps. Dave Reichert and Dan Newhouse, or claimed to be still studying the agreement and wouldn’t reveal their position. All of the state’s congressional Republicans and Democrats who voted for Fast Track negotiating authority to smooth passage of the TPP, including Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, failed to receive the Washington State Labor Council’s election endorsement last fall.

The Washington Fair Trade Coalition issued the following statement on Monday.

Withdrawal from the TPP marks two important accomplishments. We stop digging ourselves into a deeper hole on trade policy, and we begin to rethink our approach to globalization.

For decades, we have mismanaged globalization, amplifying the wealth and influence of the 1% across the globe, while leaving workers, communities and the planet behind.

TPP’s fatal flaw was its closed process dominated by corporate advisors. The interests of civil society were never taken seriously in the TPP negotiations process, nor in other negotiations over the last 20 years of free-trade deals.

The 75 member organizations of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition insist on a new approach to globalization through open political engagement where we balance legitimate public interests with investor interests. We call for a new approach to globalization:

► The goal of trade is to improve living standards everywhere – not maximum possible trade; not lower prices.

► All stakeholders must be involved in any new negotiations process, and public interest must be taken seriously.

► Policies must prioritize labor rights, human rights, public health, food security, and the environment – directly addressing the two defining problems of our time: climate change and inequality

► National and local strategies are legitimate and necessary. Trade policy should encourage local innovation and decision-making.

This moment is an historic opportunity to rewrite the global rulebook, ensuring that trade policy works for all of us.

The Washington Fair Trade Coalition is 75 organizations from labor, environment, faith, social justice, and public health groups, small farms, and socially responsible businesses that are committed to working for a just global trading system.

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