The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, April 22, 2016

Study predicts big-time job losses if TPP is passed

By The Building Tradesman

By Mark Gruenberg
PAI Staff Writer

Workers in the U.S. and Japan, and indeed worldwide, are likely to lose tens of thousands of jobs, and those two economies are likely to grow more slowly than projected, if the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” pact takes effect, a new report says. The U.S. alone would lose almost 450,000 jobs in a decade, it adds.

The report, by economists at Tufts University in Massachusetts, also criticizes TPP backers for using economic assumptions that don’t, in so many words, jibe with the real world. The assumptions the Tufts team uses are those, adopted by the United Nations, that more accurately reflect real economic conditions in the 12 TPP nations.

“The U.S. and Japan are projected to suffer net losses of GDP (gross domestic product) of 0.54 percent and 0.12 percent respectively compared to the baseline” – how much they would have grown without the TPP – the report says. The two still grow, but not as much. “Furthermore, we project negative effects on growth and employment in non-TPP countries. This increases the risk of global instability and a race to the bottom, in which labor incomes will be under increasing pressure.”

The slower growth in the U.S. and Japan undermines yet another key argument of TPP backers, including big business and the Obama administration.

"Even assuming the same increase in trade volumes in TPP countries” as proponents did, “we project negligible or negative impacts on growth,” the Tufts team says.

Problems in TPP nations – lack of enforceable worker rights in nations such as Mexico, a flat ban on unions and a pennies-per-day minimum wage in Vietnam, rampant and widespread discrimination against LGBT people in Brunei, etc. – have led organized labor and its U.S. allies to campaign hard against congressional approval of the TPP.

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, who has said we're going to "fight like hell" to kill the TPP, said “the economy’s nothing but a set of rules. Those rules are made and written by the men and women we elect. Those rules set the winners and the losers, and for nearly four decades, they’ve been written so you and I are the losers.”

Workers and their congressional allies maintain those problems, added to TPP’s general pro-corporate tilt and its secret pro-business trade court that could override state, local and national laws that might interfere with profits, mean Congress should reject the pact.

President Barack Obama has already asked the GOP-run Congress to pass administration-crafted legislation to implement the TPP. Under fast-track trade law, Congress can’t change the bill that Obama sends it, can’t amend the TPP itself, has only limited debate on the TPP and must take one up-or-down vote in each house on the implementing bill.

Once you use the UN assumptions – which project slower economic growth with the TPP than without it, among other results – the U.S. loses 448,000 jobs over 10 years because of the TPP. Japan loses 74,000 jobs, Canada loses 58,000 and the other TPP nations lose 181,000 more. Even the rest of the world loses 5.3 million jobs, the Tufts team says.

The TPP, signed earlier this year after years of bargaining between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, would cut tariffs on all goods traveling between them. But it would also enact a host of other pro-business protections, while doing little or nothing for workers.