Negotiations over the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement concluded on Monday.
The United States negotiated with 11 countries, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, on the TPP trade deal.
"We, the trade ministers... are pleased to announce that we have successfully concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Monday morning. "After more than five years of intensive negotiations, we have come to an agreement that will support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development and promote innovation."
U.S. Congress members could vote on the TPP deal as early as February, according to Politico.
Labor and environmental groups as well as health and consumer advocates are among those who have spoken out against components of the TPP agreement.
UPDATE 1 (2:02 p.m.): In response to the announcement that TPP negotiations have concluded, Robert Scott, director of trade and manufacturing policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, released this statement:
The TPP, which is an agreement to manage trade and investment on behalf of large corporations, will put downward pressure on wages of workers in the United States, and will likely lead to growing trade deficits and job displacement. Both outsourcing and the growing use of parts from non-TPP countries will lead to rising imports, increasing trade deficits and job losses in the United States. Meanwhile, core issues like currency manipulation and abusive labor practices in Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, and Brunei are addressed only in weak side agreements, or agreements that cannot be enforced for at least five years, if at all.
By extending U.S. copyright and patent protections to consumers in the rest of the TPP, which will dramatically increase the prices of prescription drugs, the treaty will shift billions in profits to big pharmaceutical companies while denying access to life-saving medicines to countless poor consumers. The agreement will encourage the growth of outsourcing to low-wage export platforms in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, and create a back door for dumped and subsidized imports from China and other non-TPP members to enter the United States duty-free or at preferential TPP tariff rates.
The United States could have negotiated an effective TPP that addressed currency manipulation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and harmonized financial regulations upwards. Instead, the TPP supports a race to the bottom in international regulations that will primarily benefit multinational corporations at the expense of workers and consumers in the United States and other TPP countries.