At convention, trade pact a political football
During every pause for applause, critics of the TransPacific Partnership ( TPP) in the audience stood up in droves, waving their TPP signs circled with the “no” symbol to show their unhappiness over the proposed trade pact.
Many conventiongoers throughout the Wells Fargo Arena — where the Democratic National Convention is taking place this week — and a smattering at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where events are staged on the sidelines, wore anti-TPP buttons along with their Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton badges.
Stephanie Goslen, a 56-year-old retired science teacher, said that the TPP would further destroy the environment, running counter to the ambitious environmental protection initiatives that world leaders agreed to at the Paris climate change meeting last year.
“This doesn’t just harm us, it harms the whole world,” said Goslen, who traveled to the convention from North Carolina. “This is more of a climate issue than just a partnership. This is something that’s going to affect the climate, and we don’t have much time. We’re running out of it. And China, too, is hurting the most.”
She said that China has suffered from the effects of climate pollution more than the US has. “We can’t keep doing this. The world will be finished,” she said.
Sitting next to her, Joan Taylor from Montgomery County, Maryland, said that corporations love TPP, “making tons of money” off the partnership and pricing businesses out. “American workers would be hurt,” she said.
Jackson Thompson, a 54-year-old software engineer from St Louis, said his main concern over the TPP was how the trade policies would increase corporations’ hold on intellectual properties.
“It’s a big threat to opensource software and individual innovation,” Thompson said. “Corporations in the US have been gaining software patents, they’ve been gaining all kinds of patents, that were never issued before. With the TPP, it even goes outside of court systems within countries to corporate panels.”
More than two dozen conventiongoers interviewed by China Daily were all against the TPP.
Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s pick as running mate, said as recently as last week that the TPP would be an improvement on the status quo. Just before Clinton announced him as her pick for vice-president, Kaine defended his support for President Barack Obama on the deal, saying, “Why would I not give to this president the same tools to negotiate a trade deal that other presidents have had?”
Shortly after his vicepresidential nomination was announced, Kaine said that he now opposed the deal, putting his opinion in line with Clinton’s, who has said that the trade deal in its current form did not meet her standards for jobs in the US.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman has said that the TPP would position Americans to “compete and win in tomorrow’s global economy. This is the first trade agreement to put a real focus on American small businesses who will gain powerful tools to help them export.”
In April, more than 200 agricultural groups came out in support for the deal, which would allow farmers to better export their agricultural commodities, they said.
“TPP will allow us to be more competitive in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific market,” they said.
Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership gather at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday.