Tag Archives: Trans Pacific Partnership

Here We Go Again: Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Won’t Fix Anything

Current trade agreements are great at creating more billionaires, not so much at protecting the interests of workers.

By . Published 4-13-2018 by YES! Magazine

 

On Thursday, President Trump flipped his position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, suggesting the U.S. might want to rejoin the pact. His announcement sent Wall Street indices shooting upward in jubilation and angered labor leaders. It left China—which has been sorting out how to respond to Trump’s announced steel and aluminum tariffs—even more bewildered as criticism grows of its “Made in China 2025” initiative to dominate the high-technology sector.

Trump’s about-face is especially striking given that exiting the TPP was a crucial plank in his economic agenda on the campaign trail and one of his first acts as president. That pledge played well to the frustrations of people who know the global economy is ripping them off and are understandably angry. Continue reading

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Confirming He ‘Does Not Give a Crap About Working People,’ Trump Proposes Rejoining TPP

“In a series of broken promises Trump made to the working people of this country, rejoining the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the biggest yet,” warned Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-12-2018

Photo: End the Illusion

As if his enormous tax cuts for the rich, attacks on the safety net, and efforts to help bosses steal their employees’ tips weren’t proof enough, President Donald Trump further demonstrated that he “does not give a crap about working people” on Thursday by telling lawmakers he is considering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact he withdrew from last year and repeatedly derided as “terrible.”

In a statement responding to the news that Trump has directed his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to examine options for reentering the 11-nation accord, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen argued that the president’s move “could bring short term joy to Democratic campaign operatives” but would be yet another signal that Trump “cannot be trusted on anything.” Continue reading

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Tom Price Bought Drug Stocks. Then He Pushed Pharma’s Agenda in Australia

by Robert Faturechi ProPublica, June 1, 2017, 8 a.m.

Tom Price. Photo: Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In the spring before the 2016 presidential election, the Obama administration’s 12-nation trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, was still alive. Negotiators worked on details as Congress considered whether to ratify the pact.

The Australian government was getting in the way of one change demanded by U.S. pharmaceutical companies. Makers of cutting-edge biological drugs wanted to have data from their clinical trials protected from competitors for 12 years, as they are under U.S. law 2014 not the roughly five years permitted under the TPP. Australian officials insisted that an extension would deprive consumers of cheaper alternatives for too long. Continue reading

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Does TPP’s slow death mean the world is now unsafe for trade deals?

Charles Hankla, Georgia State University

It seems that the world has become unsafe for trade agreements. In particular, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major new trade deal among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, has become a political lightning rod for both the left and the right.

As if to highlight that fact once again, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said recently that he would not bring the TPP to a vote until after the new president takes office in January.

That’s bad news for the trade agreement – and for President Barack Obama, who sees its passage as the final plank in his foreign policy legacy and who is pushing hard for a vote during Congress’ post-election lame duck session.

But the controversial Asian pact is not the only trade agreement potentially on the chopping block. Last month, the European Union’s trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, decided not to fast-track the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) due to the anti-trade climate prevailing on the continent.

And France’s President François Hollande just declared that his country would not support moving forward with the gigantic Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU. His announcement came on the heels of a statement by Germany’s vice chancellor that TTIP “has failed.”

It seems that every time we get closer to the conclusion and ratification of a trade deal, a new barrier emerges to block any progress. What, then, are we to make of the tremendous obstacles confronting these three major agreements?

McConnell, second from right, has endorsed Trump, who has made anti-trade rhetoric a big part of his campaign. Jim Young/Reuters

The times they are a-changin’

First and foremost, opposition to trade is a sign of the times. The Great Recession, among other events, has generated strong pushback against globalization and liberal exchange, something that seems to have caught political elites around the world off guard.

The Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) had already come apart well before the recession. Its failure meant that a multilateral deal, one that would have committed nearly all of the world’s countries to the same trade agenda, was no longer possible.

At the heart of Doha’s collapse were the interests of the newly rising BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – which could not be reconciled with those of the U.S. and the EU. The failure of the WTO, in its turn, gave new impetus to regional agreements such as TTIP and TPP.

Initially, these regional agreements, along with their more modest bilateral cousins (deals between only two nations), were treated with suspicion by free traders, who feared that they would carve up the global trading system into inefficient blocs. But, in time, such agreements presented themselves as the best, and only, way forward in a more complex, multipolar economic environment.

Still, TTIP and TPP are more than just victims of the general skepticism for globalization that has arisen in the past few years. They are also the collateral damage from political events in the world’s major trading countries.

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström worries about the public opposition to CETA and TTIP. Jason Lee/Reuters

Illiberalism on the rise

First among these is the U.K.’s Brexit vote, which is likely to result in the country’s withdrawal from the EU. Brexit, which is itself the fruit of growing illiberalism in England and Wales, has distracted European leaders to such a degree that TTIP and CETA have moved onto the back burner.

Moreover, in the United States, the success of Donald Trump in mobilizing the anti-globalization working class has made Republicans in Congress, who typically support trade as good for business, wary of trade deals. It has also led Hillary Clinton to distance herself from previous statements supporting TPP made during her tenure at secretary of state.

Another problem facing TPP and TTIP is their unprecedented scope. Not only do these agreements create free trade blocs that encompass much of the world’s economic output, but they also touch on a variety of issues from internet freedom to generic drug prices to the right of private investors to sue states for compensation. Many of the most controversial elements of the agreements relate to these issues rather than to the traditional components of trade protection.

What happens next?

What would be the consequences if these agreements fail?

Economically, the U.S. is already tightly linked with both Asia and Europe. The TPP agreement would essentially expand the Pacific trade bloc beyond NAFTA to include nine additional countries, most significantly Japan. Similarly, TTIP would deepen the already significant economic interdependence that traverses the Atlantic.

The loss of these agreements would certainly have negative economic effects on all sides, as least in the aggregate (since some jobs would be saved by the reduced competition). Agreements this large cannot be jettisoned without consequences.

That said, given the deep connections that already exist among Asia, North America and Europe, the purely economic results of killing the agreements are likely to be important, but not enormous. More serious would be the geostrategic implications.

A rejection of TTIP by either side could signal a reduced U.S. presence in Europe, a particular concern in the face of increasing Russian assertiveness.

Meanwhile, an end to TPP could encourage a number of Asian countries, unsure of America’s future in the region, to move into China’s growing sphere of influence. It is no surprise that this last argument is the one being made most aggressively by the Obama administration.

Long live free trade?

If TTIP and TPP are not likely to be approved any time soon, does this mean that they are already dead?

A President Trump would certainly kill the agreements. If, however, Hillary Clinton becomes the next president, as the polls seem to indicate, their future is harder to predict. Clinton seems to be, at heart, a believer in open markets, but the current political situation makes it hard for her to say so directly.

If elected, Clinton’s statements during the campaign would make it difficult for her to support TPP out of the gate, especially with strong opposition from Bernie Sanders supporters. As envisioned by Cato trade analyst Simon Lester, she may well try to renegotiate a portion of the agreement as political cover and then resubmit it to Congress for approval.

By this point, if Trumpism has been defeated, Republicans may have a greater appetite for foreign trade. The question, of course, is whether the other TPP signatory countries will be willing to reopen portions of the agreement that have already been concluded.

Similarly, in Europe, it seems unlikely that much progress will be made until the Brexit issue is resolved and growth starts to pick up.

Despite all the obstacles, however, I believe that it is important to keep moving forward on free trade. The rejection of these important agreements could risk becoming merely the first step in a gradual erosion of support for the global economic architecture.

This architecture, so carefully created and maintained by the United States after 1945, has contributed mightily to international prosperity and peace. Maintaining it is of critical importance.

The Conversation

Charles Hankla, Associate Professor of Political Science, Georgia State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Editor’s note: Occupy World Writes believes that TTP/TTIP would be bad not only for American workers, but for workers around the globe. However, we feel that there is another side that deserves to be heard concerning the potential impact of not ratifying these agreement. Hence, this article.

 

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How Blocking the Saudi Arms Deal Could Help Stop Lame Duck TPP

By Robert Naiman. Published 8-15-2016 by Common Dreams

A Houthi militiaman with a heavy caliber machine gun. Saudi Arabia has received US support for air strikes against the fighters. (Photo: Yahya Arhab/EPA)

A Houthi militiaman with a heavy caliber machine gun. Saudi Arabia has received US support for air strikes against the fighters. (Photo: Yahya Arhab/EPA)

In this strategy memo on why progressive Democrats and Empire-skeptic Republicans should do what they reasonably can to assist efforts to block the recently proposed Saudi arms deal, I will cover four points.

1. What’s going on
2. Why this is a winnable fight
3. Why blocking/trying to block the Saudi arms deal is in the broad interests of humanity
4. How blocking the Saudi arms deal could help block lame duck TPP Continue reading

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US Government’s Own Report Shows Toxic TPP “Not Worth Passing”

‘This report indicates the TPP will produce almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.’

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2016

"This report validates that the TPP is not worth passing," said United Steelworkers (USW) International president Leo W. Gerard. (Photo: SumOfUs/cc/flickr)

“This report validates that the TPP is not worth passing,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International president Leo W. Gerard. (Photo: SumOfUs/cc/flickr)

The government’s own assessment of the toxic Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) shows that the controversial trade deal will produce negligible economic benefits while damaging most Americans’ jobs and wages.

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) report (pdf), issued Wednesday, shows that the TPP “would likely have only a small positive effect on U.S. growth,” Reuters reported. Continue reading

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America just Blocked India’s Solar Program

By Vandita. Published 3-10-2016 by AnonHQ

Walking to the solar panels. Photo: Kiran Jonnalagadda from Bangalore, India (Walking to the solar panels) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Solar panels near Leh, India. Photo: Kiran Jonnalagadda from Bangalore, India (Walking to the solar panels) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Solar power sees unprecedented boom in the United States – solar power grew by 6.2 gigawatts in 2014; and 1 million American homes have solar panels as of February 2016. However,  the United States dragged India to the World Trade Organization claiming that India’s efforts to boost local production of solar cells and solar modules violated WTO rules.

Just recently, a WTO panel has ruled that the domestic content requirement (DCR) imposed under India’s National Solar Mission (NSM), is inconsistent with its archaic treaty obligations under the global trading regime. The requirement in question mandates a percentage of components to be sourced locally, to boost homegrown production of solar cells and solar modules. Continue reading

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The Pipeline Strikes Back: the audacity of TransCanada’s $15b suit against the U.S.

The political saga of the Keystone XL pipeline is like a real-life version of The Force Awakens. So why are we giving the Dark Side even more power?

By Jim Shultz. Published 2-5-16 by openDemocracy

The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: starwars.wikia.com.

The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: starwars.wikia.com.

In case you didn’t notice, the new blockbuster Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, ends pretty much the same way the first one did when it came out in the summer of 1977. The bad guys build a Death Star machine that can kill whole planets, the good guys fight back with pluck and grit, and, just in the nick of time, destroy the machine.

The political saga of the Keystone XL pipeline has followed essentially the same plot. TransCanada (playing the role of the Empire) sought to build a metal tunnel from Alberta to the Gulf Coast to transport oil from the Canadian tar sands. The pipeline, not unlike a Death Star, threatened the planet because it would have amped up carbon emissions and quickened the pace of global climate change. In the Keystone saga, pluck and grit came in the form of protests, lawsuits, arrests, and the encirclement of the White House—the equivalent of a Jedi counter-attack. Continue reading

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TPP Trade Deal Will Cost US 448,000 Jobs, Say Researchers

A new analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) international trade deal has found claims of increased jobs are likely exaggerated.

Written by Derrick Broze. Published by The Anti-Media on 1-24-2016.

Rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in Wellington, New Zealand, 2014. Photo: Neil Ballantyne from Wellington, New Zealand (Stop TPPA rally.) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in Wellington, New Zealand, 2014. Photo: Neil Ballantyne from Wellington, New Zealand (Stop TPPA rally.) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the major purported selling points for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a supposed increase in new jobs as a result of the controversial trade deal. The deal involves 12 nations, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia and more. However, two recent economic reports have contradicted the claims that jobs will increase. They have shown that, more than likely, the deal will lead to a loss of jobs.

First there was a World Bank report that predicted that TPP would produce negligible boosts to the economies of the U.S., Australia, and Canada. TechDirt writes:

So according to the World Bank’s figures, the U.S. will gain an extra 0.04% GDP per year on average, as a result of TPP; Australia an extra 0.07% annually, and Canada a boost of 0.12% per year.”

This study was followed up by a review from Jerome Capaldo and Alex Izurieta at Tufts University. In a study titled “Trading Down: Unemployment, Inequality and Other Risks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement,” Capaldo and Izurieta claim their study uses a more realistic model than past analyses. Specifically, the researchers state that their model incorporates effects on employment that were previously excluded from TPP calculations.

Their study found that economic growth is likely to be limited — and negative — for some countries, including the United States. The researchers also found the TPP would probably lead to increased unemployment and inequality. Capaldo and Izurieta explained:

“The standard model assumes full employment and invariant income distribution, ruling out the main risks of trade and financial liberalization. Subject to these assumptions, it finds positive effects on growth. An important question, therefore, is how this conclusion changes if those assumptions are dropped.”

In the paper, the two researchers state that changes in GDP growth are “mostly projected to be negligible.” After using two sets of growth figures, ten-year measurements, and annual averages, they concluded the TPP “appears to only marginally change competitiveness among participating countries. Most gains are therefore obtained at the expense of non-TPP countries.”

The fact that any gains — however negligible — will come at the cost of non-TPP countries should be a warning to all nations of the world, especially those who do not stand to benefit from the agreement. Concerning predictions of actual job losses or gains, the researchers write, “TPP would lead to employment losses in all countries, with a total of 771,000 lost jobs. The United States would be the hardest hit, with a loss of 448,000 jobs.

Finally, the researchers draw harrowing conclusions about the end result of the TPP.

“Globally, the TPP favors competition on labor costs and remuneration of capital. Depending on the policy choices in non-TPP countries, this may accelerate the global race to the bottom, increasing downward pressure on labor incomes in a quest for ever more elusive trade gains.”

This latest analysis of TPP job claims is even more dismal than a February 2015 analysis by the Washington Post, which revealed the U.S. government’s numbers on expected job increases from the TPP are not factually correct. The Post’s Fact Checker examined several quotes from government officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Both Kerry and Vilsack claimed the international trade agreement would create 650,000 new jobs. However, these numbers do not take into account income gains and changing wages. According to the government’s own sources, imports and exports would increase by the same amount — resulting in a net number of zero new jobs.

The TPP has faced criticism for several years, not least because it has been negotiated in secret with overwhelming influence from multinational corporations. In late June 2015, President Obama signed into law the so-called “fast-track” bill, which set the stage for approval of the TPP. “Fast-track” limits Congress’ ability to alter the provisions of the trade deal, and only allows a vote of yes or no. The final terms of the deal were agreed upon in October 2015, and the full text of the agreement was released in November. The earliest Obama can sign the deal is February 4, 2016.

Following the release of the text of the TPP, journalist James Corbett released an excellent report examining the effects of the proposal. Corbett concludes that the most egregious portions relate to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Mechanism, intellectual property, and food safety standards.

According to the report, ISDS will give corporations loopholes to escape accountability and empower international bodies, overriding the national sovereignty of signing nations. Under ISDS, foreign corporations would be allowed to appeal legal decisions to international tribunals, rather than face domestic courts. Critics fear this could lead to a loss of sovereignty and the enrichment of transnational corporations.

In late 2015, Anti-Media reported the TPP might not be voted on until after the 2016 presidential elections, or possibly into the next presidential term, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In an interview with the Washington Post, McConnell said he does not support the idea of voting on the TPP before the election. “It certainly shouldn’t come before the election. I don’t think so, and I have some serious problems with what I think it is,” he said. “But I think the president would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election. There’s significant pushback all over the place.”

We will continue working with Congressional leaders to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership as soon as possible next year,” Brandi Hoffine, a White House spokeswoman, told the Post on Thursday. On Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, “Our view is that it is possible for Congress to carefully consider the details of this agreement and to review all the benefits associated with this agreement … without kicking the vote all the way to the lame-duck period.”

Recently, the Electronic Frontier Foundation also released a report on the dangers of the TPP. EFF writes:

Everything in the TPP that increases corporate rights and interests is binding, whereas every provision that is meant to protect the public interest is non-binding and is susceptible to get bulldozed by efforts to protect corporations.”

The EFF’s report offers “a list of communities who were excluded from the TPP deliberation process,” and examples of “the main ways that the TPP’s copyright and digital policy provisions will negatively impact them.”

These communities include Innovators and Business Owners; Libraries, Archives, and Museums; Students; Impacts on Online Privacy and Digital Security; Website Owners; Gamers; Artists; Journalists and Whistleblowers; Tinkerers and Repairers; Free Software; and Cosplayers and Fans of Anime, Cartoons, or Movies.

Before the deal was signed, fifteen different organizations issued an open letter asking TPP negotiators to provide public safeguards for copyrighted works. These groups include Australian Digital Alliance, Consumer NZ (New Zealand), Copia Institute (United States), Creative Commons (International), Electronic Frontier Foundation (United States, Australia), Hiperderecho (Peru), Futuristech Info (International), Global Exchange (International), iFixit (International), New Media Rights (United States), ONG Derecho Digitales (Chile), Open Media (Canada), Public Citizen (United States), and Public Knowledge (United States).

 

The authors of the letter state copyright restricts important, everyday use of creative works. The groups call on the negotiators to be open to new changes that require participating nations to develop balanced and flexible rules on copyrights. Also highlighted in the letter are four key concerns from the organizations, including retroactive copyright term extension, a ban on circumvention of technology protection measures, “heavy-handed criminal penalties and civil damages,” and trade secret rules that could criminalize investigative journalism and whistleblowers reporting on corporate wrongdoing.

As the EFF writes, “Despite its earlier promises that the TPP would bring ‘greater balance’ to copyright more than any other recent trade agreement, the most recent leak of the Intellectual Property chapter belies their claims. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has still failed to live up to its word that it would enshrine meaningful public rights to use copyrighted content in this agreement.”

The TPP is not only facing resistance from electronic privacy groups, but from grassroots activists and concerned professionals around the world. Both the Anglican and Catholic churches of New Zealand have demanded governments be more transparent about the negotiations. Radio NZreports that bishops from the churches are concerned with the lack of openness. They are worried corporate interests are influencing the agreement while the people are excluded. The churches also called on the New Zealand government to make the draft text of the agreement public.

Doctors Without Borders released a statement following the conclusion of negotiations:

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) expresses its dismay that TPP countries have agreed to United States government and multinational drug company demands that will raise the price of medicines for millions by unnecessarily extending monopolies and further delaying price-lowering generic competition. The big losers in the TPP are patients and treatment providers in developing countries. Although the text has improved over the initial demands, the TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries, which will be forced to change their laws to incorporate abusive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies.

In early February 2015, doctors and health professionals representing seven countries released a letter warning the TPP will lead to higher medical costs for all nations. The letter, published in the Lancet Medical Journalstates, “Rising medicine costs would disproportionately affect already vulnerable populations.” Those doctors called on the governments involved in the trade deal to publicly release the full text of the agreement. They also demanded an independent analysis of the effects on health and human rights for each nation involved in the deal.

About the Author:
Derrick Broze joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in July of 2014. His topics of interest include solutions to the police state, the surveillance state, economic inequality, attacks on Native communities, and oppression in all its forms. He was born in Houston, Texas.

This article was published under a Creative Commons license.

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This WTO Ruling Is Perfect Example of How Big Trade Deals Trump Democracy

NAFTA partners can sue the U.S. for a combined $1 billion annually in retaliatory tariffs over Country of Origin Labels for meat

Written by Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-7-2015.

Republican lawmakers and meat industry lobbyists, now bolstered by the WTO ruling, are working to overturn meat labeling provision that 92 percent of public supports. (Photo: Jason Tester Guerilla Futures/cc/flickr)

Republican lawmakers and meat industry lobbyists, now bolstered by the WTO ruling, are working to overturn meat labeling provision that 92 percent of public supports. (Photo: Jason Tester Guerilla Futures/cc/flickr)

In a move that watchdogs say presents a “glaring example of how trade agreements can undermine public interest policies,” the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled on Monday that the U.S. can be forced to pay $1 billion annually by NAFTA partners for its establishment of food safety laws.

In its decision, the WTO authorized $781 million from Canada and $227 million from Mexico in annual retaliation tariffs over the U.S. law requiring Country of Original Labels (COOL) for certain packaged meats, which food safety and consumer groups say is essential for consumer choice and animal welfare, as well as environmental and public health.

The United States’ North American trading partners argued that being forced to label where animals were born, raised, and slaughtered placed an undue burden on livestock producers and processors and, as AgriPulse reports, “ultimately persuaded the WTO that the law accorded unfavorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock.”

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said on Monday that the ruling “makes clear that trade agreements can—and do—threaten even the most favored U.S. consumer protections.”

Citing a May 2015 speech during which U.S. President Barack Obama brushed aside warnings that agreements like NAFTA and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could undermine important regulations, Wallach continued: “We hope that President Obama stands by his claim that ‘no trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws,’ but in fact rolling back U.S. consumer and environmental safeguards has been exactly what past presidents have done after previous retrograde trade pact rulings.”

The ruling comes just two weeks after the WTO also ruled that U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna labeling poses a “technical barrier to trade” that must be eliminated or weakened.

Consumer advocates say that rulings provide a stark warning as Obama attempts to rally congressional support for the 12-nation TPP, which critics warn also compromises food safety by, among other things, limiting inspections on imported foods.

The Republican-led House of Representatives last spring already passed a measure repealing the meat label provision—despite the fact that 92 percent of Americans support the policy.

Now, with the WTO ruling bolstering their case, meat industry lobby groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, are pushing the rest of Congress to follow suit.

According to AgriPulse, “Sources have indicated that a repeal provision may be attached to either the omnibus spending bill expected to be debated this week or a customs enforcement bill also expected to be considered before Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the year next week.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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