28 July, 2015
Negotiators are meeting this week in Hawaii to discuss the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Trade ministers from around the world will try to settle the remaining issues.
If completed, the Trans Pacific Partnership would reduce tariffs and trade rules among the countries involved. Supporters say that would increase economic growth.
Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Australia are among the nations involved in the TPP. The others are New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and the United States. Together, these 12 countries make up about 40 percent of the world economy.
American opponents to the deal say it would do too little to protect human rights, the environment and U.S. jobs.
Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO labor organization. In his words, the TPP "is full of stuff that is bad for working people, bad for the environment, bad for food safety."
Reduced tariffs on imports can increase exchanges and expand economic growth because trade becomes less costly. The TPP new deal cuts rules and laws that make it difficult for goods from one nation to be sold in another.
U.S. critics say making similar labor standards and environmental laws might weaken worker protections in the United States or other nations. Unions worry that weak labor rights protections in some U.S. trading partners would keep production costs low. They also worry that it would encourage companies to move more jobs out of the United States to low-wage nations.
Charles Morrison is president of the East-West center in Hawaii. He said the TPP is a "very complicated negotiation" and the outcome is "far from certain." Mr. Morrison also said that many nations are pushing for the deal. But he told VOA that even if negotiators reach a deal this week, each nation would still have to approve it. That includes the United States Senate.
He told VOA the deal would likely disappoint some business groups, environmental activists or others who wish officials had negotiated more. Mr. Morrison also said failing to make a deal would deny consumers in many countries the benefits of cheaper, more efficient trade
Observers say many issues still need to be worked out to reach a deal. The United States and Japan, for example, have had disputes over car parts and rice imports. Other nations have disputed over access to Canadian markets for agricultural products.
Trade ministers are set to hold a press conference on Friday, July 31, to announce the results of the talks in Hawaii.
I'm Ashley Thompson.
Words in This Story
tariff – n. a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country
standard – n. a level of quality, achievement, etc., that is considered acceptable or desirable
encourage – v. to make (something) more appealing or more likely to happen
disappoint – v. to make (someone) unhappy by not being as good as expected or by not doing something that was hoped for or expected
consumer – n. a person who buys goods and services
cheaper – adj. of lower cost