Apr 8, 2016

Coalition in El Paso, Texas rally against the TPP

Local Coalition to conduct rally opposing the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
prior to Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce event featuring
Luis Jimenez, counselor to U.S. Trade Representative

News Release by People Power

Coalition Message to Chamber of Commerce:
Proposed Trade Deal Threatens the Health, Economy and Well-being of our Communities

El Paso, Texas, April 8, 2016 — A coalition of unions, organizations and community members will gather in front of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, 10 Civic Center Plaza on April 8 to raise awareness about the threats of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest trade deal in history.

The United States is among the 12 countries awaiting approval of the pending trade deal, which includes: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

A rally preceded Counselor to the U.S. Trade Representative, Luis Jimenez' address to the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. Jimenez is expected to speak about the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to area businesses.

"Trade is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that every trade agreement is a smart deal. The TPP would erode existing preferences for Mexican-made goods imported into the United States under NAFTA, forcing Mexican industry to compete much more directly with less-expensive Asian-made goods," said Louie Muñoz, J.D., political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 59.

"This not only threatens Mexican businesses, but all of the businesses on the Texas-Mexico border set up to service companies in Juarez and elsewhere,” stated Muñoz said.

"Since implementation of the (1994) North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), El Paso has transitioned from being a hub of production into a center for customs brokerage, logistics, distribution, transportation, accounting and other services for Mexican production operations. That would all come under serious jeopardy if the TPP were to move forward.”

"Much of the automobile, electronics and apparel industry that has built up in northern Mexico since NAFTA would be lost under the TPP as transnational corporations shift production to lower-cost competitors in Asia who would suddenly have duty-free access to U.S. markets themselves,” Muñoz added.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership could displace at least 600,000 jobs nationally. In the El Paso area, the job loss caused by NAFTA continues to hurt the economy. El Paso was drastically affected by the apparel jobs relocating to Mexico.

The TPP would create major new incentives to further shift production of goods intended for sale in the U.S. market away from Mexico by providing duty-free U.S. access for several major low-wage competitors to Mexico. TPP also threatens to undermine environmental laws and regulations, diminish fair-wage standards, and allow corporate power to supersede the political sovereignty of signatory nations.  

U.S. workers with a (federal) minimum wage of $7.25 per hour will have to compete with Vietnamese workers who earn an average minimum wage of less than 60 cents, which is less than a third of China’s average minimum wage.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNU) also opposes the TPP for a number of reasons, including the trade agreement's potential to reduce access to affordable medications. 

“The TPP threatens to give pharmaceutical companies the ability to inflate drug costs by eliminating competition, such as generics, and will allow other corporate interests to threaten food safety laws and environmental protections. Reducing access to affordable medications, and undermining food safety and environmental protections would greatly affect our patients,” NNU said in a statement.