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Addressing President Obama’s Progress Report At The Nine-Nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks In Hawaii, The United Steelworkers Say The Proposed Addition Of Japan Raises New Issues For Working Americans

Published Sunday, November 13, 2011 11:00 am
by USW National News & WNYLT Staff

(WASHINGTON) – Addressing President Obama’s progress report at the Nine-Nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks in Hawaii, United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo Gerard says the announcement that Japan is exploring joining in the negotiations raises new issues and new complexity, especially for Working Americans. 

President Obama is in Honolulu for the nine nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), multi-nation negotiations. The TPP is an Asia-Pacific Regional Trade Agreement currently being negotiated by the U.S. and several partners, including Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  

Said Gerard: “The USW appreciates the Obama Administration’s aggressive outreach on ways the TPP could support manufacturing and create jobs in the U.S.  We’ve spent considerable time with our negotiators and have offered specific ideas as to what provisions will achieve our goals.  The USW is committed to working with the Administration to achieve an agreement that will strengthen U.S. manufacturing and create economic opportunity at home for all, not just the fortunate few.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the first trade agreement being fully negotiated by President Obama.  He has the opportunity to put his own stamp on it as a Pro-Worker, Pro-Jobs Trade Agreement.  The president and his Administration have a responsibility to ensure that this and future trade agreements not only create family-supportive jobs in America and opportunities for U.S.-based producers to share in the benefits of trade, but to ensure there is little incentive for producers to chase the lowest Labor and Environmental Standards in order to maintain their competitiveness in the global market.  There’s a lot more work to be done and improvements in the traditional approach to trade will be necessary.  The TPP provides an opportunity to update and reform the trade rules, addressing the real challenges facing Working Americans.  We cannot abide by countries that maintain and erect non-tariff barriers to our products, engage in predatory practices such as currency manipulation, provide subsidies through state-owned enterprises, and simply don’t play by the same rules that we do.  The announcement that Japan is exploring joining in the negotiations raises new issues and new complexity.  Japan has one of the most closed markets in the world to outside players.  Its web of inter-locking relationships engages in many exclusionary practices.  An agreement that includes Japan must have provisions to ensure true reciprocity is achieved, not just by lowering tariffs, but through real market access as well as elimination of non-tariff barriers.  And, it must address the challenges many Japanese exports will pose to American manufacturers.  Other potential future participants in the TPP must know that the status quo approach is no longer acceptable.  We agree with President Obama who has said success should be measured not simply by the number of agreements that we sign, but by the results that they produce.  There’s still a long negotiating road ahead of us, and the USW intends to stay engaged with our negotiators to help identify a path that produces real results in terms of jobs and opportunities for everyone.  The impact of trade – both good and bad – is felt every day by USW Members, their families and the communities in which they live.  Unfortunately to-date, the impact upon the lives and livelihoods of our members and their families has not been as positive as it should be.  Our Nation continues to run massive trade deficits every year, fueled by today’s trade policies that sap our economic strength and have resulted in countless job losses.”

The USW has 850,000 Members in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, and is the largest Private Sector Industrial Union in North America.  The USW represents Workers in a variety of industries, including Metals, Mining, Rubber, Plastics, Paper and Forestry, Glass, Chemicals, Auto Parts Manufacturing, Consumer Products and Energy Production, which includes Oil Refining, Electric and Natural Gas Utilities, Bio-Mass, Wind and Solar, plus Nuclear Fuel Processing.  USW-Represented Service Sector Workers are Office, Technical and Professional Employees in Health Care, Security, Hotels and Municipal Governments.

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