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Michiganders Protest 'NAFTA on Steroids'

While it's praised by President Obama, some Michiganders say the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would hurt American jobs. (whitehouse.gov)
While it's praised by President Obama, some Michiganders say the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would hurt American jobs. (whitehouse.gov)
February 5, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - The fight over a controversial trade deal is not over in Michigan. On the same day 12 nations, including the United States, signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opponents rallied in protest in Detroit and dozens of other cities Thursday night.

President Obama and other supporters of the trade pact say it will give the U.S. an edge over China and other leading economies. But Grace Alexander, organizer of Stop the TPP in Michigan, argues that, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, it will send thousands of jobs out of the U.S.

"This TPP is NAFTA on steroids," says Alexander. "And we're already getting reports that there could be up to a half million jobs lost in this country once it's signed."

Alexander adds, the deal was drafted in secret and elevates corporate interests over human rights and democracy. The countries involved in the agreement make up 36 percent of the world economy, and each has two years to approve the agreement.

Alexander says the TPP would empower foreign corporations to bypass national courts to seek taxpayer compensation for local, state or federal laws that threaten expected profits. Additionally, she explains that companies can set up arbitration clauses that prevent lawsuits.

"We won't be able to use our court system for redress in cases of negligence by a company," she says. "And along with that, they will attack citizen decisions whether it's toxic chemicals, building permits or minimum wages."

The trade deal also would delay the introduction of low-cost generic medications and allow additional 20-year patents for new uses of drugs already under patent. Alexander argues it will raise health care prices and reduce access to medicine.

"We see it as a drawback to the poor and minorities that will virtually put them out of the ability to pay for medication that is, in most cases, a life-saving medication," says Alexander.

Obama contends the deal will minimize trade barriers and urged swift passage by Congress.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI