Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously (9-0) Monday to express its opposition to giving the president fast-track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other upcoming trade agreements.
Last week, the City Council in Bellingham, Washington also voted unanimously to approve a resolution against fast track, stating, “We do not believe it is sound democratic process to bind Congress to an up-or-down vote, particularly on a wide-reaching and controversial agreement written behind closed doors.”
Seattle’s resolution also expresses “strong concerns about draft elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).”
Fair Trade Is Important To Seattle
The resolution spells out how important trade is to the city as well as the state of Washington, stating that Seattle “is committed to international trade that fosters economic growth and high standards for labor, our environment, and public health.”
It also states that “Washington is a trade dependent state in which at least 40 percent of jobs are directly or indirectly related to international trade, and in the last decade Washington exports grew 176 percent, from $29.6 billion in 2004 to $81.6 billion in 2013.”
However, the resolution says, “fair trade should promote the creation of family-wage jobs, encourage shared prosperity, protect our environment, ensure the safety of food and other products, revitalize manufacturing, and ensure local governments can regulate for high standards.”
The Problems With TPP
According to the resolution, TPP presents a problem because it “is being negotiated in closed-door negotiating sessions between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations and has not been made available to the public or state and local elected officials.”
The resolution points out that Seattle has previously expressed its opposition to provisions similar to TPP’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision which was leaked last week by WikiLeaks.
TPP’s secrecy and lack of stakeholder input also is a problem, and “members of Congress, including Congressman Jim McDermott of Seattle, signed letters in 2012 and 2013, calling on our trade representatives to consult with Congress to pursue a more transparent and inclusive legislative process for consideration of the TPP.”
Fast track is a problem because it won’t allow Congress to fix problems that turn up in TPP and need fixing. As the resolution states, “the President has asked Congress to approve the TPP under “Fast Track” procedural rules, which limit our Congressional representatives’ ability to adequately review, debate and amend the TPP and make a determination as to whether the TPP is in the best interests of the American people and our local residents.”
A “Transparent and Inclusive” Process
So Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously that it “opposes “Fast Track” authority for the TPP and that, instead, the President and Congress carry out a fully transparent and inclusive legislative process for consideration of the TPP.”
The City Council voted to ask the President and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) “to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership to advance the interests of workers, to maintain the sovereignty of local governments to safeguard our environment, to improve the quality of life in all countries that are signatory to the agreement, and to ensure the absolute sovereignty of U. S. courts and not agree to arbitration outside of the normal judicial process.”
If they do not do that, “the Seattle City Council will urge our Congressional delegation to vote to reject this trade agreement.”