This morning, the White House announced the clinching of a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Unfortunately, the agreement negotiated by President Obama is completely inadequate to serve the interests of America's manufacturers, industrial workers, farmers and other segments of the U.S. economy. And a key problem is that the Obama administration has refused to include enforceable currency manipulation provisions in the final deal, despite an overwhelming bipartisan request from both houses of congress.
By not addressing the currency manipulation that provides an export advantage for countries like Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore, the current deal simply offers an open invitation to continue such unfair, anti-competitive trade practices without fear of consequences.
The lack of action on currency is particularly disheartening because the Obama administration has simply refused to carry out the will of Congress and its specific negotiating instructions to include enforceable currency provisions in the agreement. The omission of meaningful currency language is not only a deal-breaker, but signals to China and other East Asian not party to the TPP that they are "home free" and can continue to use currency market interventions to boost sales without fear that the United States will seek any redress.
This lack of currency provisions also sets a terrible precedent for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal that is just beginning to emerge from early discussions. Because several European nations engage in currency manipulation, they will happily recognize the green light being afforded them to continue their practices without fear of consequences.
The TPP that has been negotiated for more than six years does not represent free trade, and it certainly doesn't pose as fair trade. What has been assembled through countless closed-door meetings is simply government-managed trade. Witness the horse-trading that just took place at the all-night Atlanta negotiating sessions, where executive branch negotiators decided which industries would be sacrificed to achieve a deal and thus cement an "Obama legacy." And what was sacrificed? Key industrial sectors such as autos, dairy, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals.
Did Congress get to weigh-in on TPP? Hardly.
In reaction to the deal's announcement, leading Members of Congress have said that they'll need to study the deal in order to to see what's in it. That's a clear indication that the president uniformly chose to forego any meaningful consultation with the elected representatives of the American people.
The Obama administration's penchant for secret negotiations, favoritism and crony capitalism, along with a blatant disregard for Congressional instructions on currency manipulation, should not be allowed to stand when the TPP comes to Congress for a vote. To preserve the integrity of the trade negotiating process and to force achievement of a better trade deal, Congress must reject this woefully inadequate TPP trade agreement.