The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is on track to become the largest free trade agreement ever. It’s being negotiated in secret among 12 countries: the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

What’s the Connection Between Bad Trade Deals and Declining Cities?

Just three trade agreements – NAFTA, China and Korea – caused a net loss of more than 4 million U.S. jobs. They’ve forced firms and factories to close in many U.S. cities, resulting in a huge drop in tax revenues from business and working families who lost their livelihoods.

As multinational corporations abandoned U.S. cities for offshore locations, the financial pressure on the communities increased. The declining tax base means that fewer resources are available to help residents, fund local schools and maintain city services. In many of the communities, people of color constitute the biggest percentage of the population and have suffered the most from unfair trade.

As multinational corporations abandoned U.S. cities for offshore locations, the financial pressure on the communities increased

In Detroit, workers and residents continue to suffer.

From 1998-20112:

  • 147,300 manufacturing jobs or 43% of its entire manufacturing workforce have been lost.
  • $11.8 billion or 49% of the inflation-adjusted annual wages paid in the manufacturing sector has been lost.
  • 81 out of its 190 manufacturing plants employing more than 250 workers were shut down.
  • 32,600 local public sector jobs or almost 20% of Detroit’s entire local public sector workforce during this period disappeared. Local public education alone lost 21,500 of these jobs.

Families in Cleveland didn’t fare any better:

From 1998-20112:

  • 82,000 jobs–40% of its total manufacturing jobs–have been lost.
  • Families lost $3.2 billion in inflation-adjusted annual wages.
  • 59 of its 120 factories that employed more than 250 workers were shut down.
  • 4,400 public education workers lost their jobs. It’s the same story in big cities and small, in every region of the country.

The loss of factories and good paying manufacturing jobs is directly related to the trade deals the U.S. has negotiated over the past 20 years.

  1. Birmingham, Alabama lost 14,300 manufacturing jobs or 29% of its total. Thirteen of 41 factories that employed more than 250 workers each were shut down.
  2. Buffalo, New York lost 28,800 manufacturing jobs or 36% of its total. Eighteen of its 50 factories that employed more than 250 workers each were shut down.
  3. Chicago, Illinois metropolitan area lost 204,200 jobs or 35% of its manufacturing workforce, and a whopping 49% of its factories that employed more than 250 workers each.
  4. Fresno, California lost 7,200 manufacturing jobs or 23% of its entire manufacturing workforce.
  5. Memphis, Tennessee lost 20,000 manufacturing jobs or 36% of its entire manufacturing workforce.
  6. St. Louis, Missouri lost 79,000 jobs or 45% of its manufacturing
    workforce.

Who Gains, Who Doesn’t?

The TPP–just like other U.S. trade agreements–would provide big incentives to multinational corporations to send even more jobs and investment overseas, to countries that can impose low wages and harsh conditions on workers. And just like those other trade deals, the TPP would make the fiscal crises hitting many U.S. cities and communities worse, by destroying even more jobs, gutting wages and shutting call centers and factories.

The Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their political allies want to push “Fast Track” authority through Congress. Fast Track means there would be a guaranteed vote in the House and Senate on TPP with no amendments allowed on a 1,200 page trade deal that’s been negotiated in almost total secrecy.

Under fast track, Congress would be giving a blank check to a trade deal it hasn’t even seen. TPP Enables Multinational Corporations to Challenge Buy American and Buy Local Programs The TPP also would block federal, state and local governments from taking action to boost job creation. The TPP gives multinational corporations special rights under the Investor State Dispute Settlement, ISDS, to directly challenge any federal, state or local laws or regulations that could affect the corporation’s “expected future profits.”

This ISDS process would enable multinational corporations to challenge Buy American and Buy Local laws in a secret, international tribunals staffed by attorneys who are accountable to no one. Our government and citizens would have no standing there. Congress must reject Fast Track authority and ensure that these trade deals benefit all citizens, not just corporate ones.