Rep. Schiff Statement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) issued the following statement:

When I announced my opposition to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation last year, I made it clear that for any trade deal to earn my support, I must be confident that it will address the already historic and growing income inequality in America -- not make matters worse.  I have always accepted the premise that expanded trade, if fair, would increase our economic growth. But if that increased prosperity accrues only to those who have already done well, and comes at the cost of further losses to middle class and working families, it is not a bargain worth making. After reviewing the now-concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and considering the views of those in support and those opposed, I have concluded that the agreement is likely to exacerbate income inequality and as a result I intend to oppose the agreement if it's brought to the floor for a vote. 

In my statement on the TPA legislation, I identified concerns that my constituents and I have had over certain sections of the proposed TPP, and what would be necessary to address them.  One of those concerns was currency manipulation by our trading partners, a practice that places American workers at a severe disadvantage and has cost our economy countless billions in lost wages.  I believed then, as I do now, that the TPP must include strong and enforceable provisions addressing currency issues. Similarly, it is vital for TPP to include strong labor standards, environmental protections, and human rights guarantees, along with truly enforceable mechanisms to ensure compliance.  In addition, the investment dispute process must not permit foreign investors to gut domestic labor, environmental and other protections already in place or have a chilling effect on countries working to pass those protections.  These provisions are important in their own right, but they take on even greater significance when considered in light of their impacts on the disparity in wealth.  Unfortunately, the TPP fails to include such pivotal safeguards and enforceable standards. 

The Administration and supporters of the TPP argue that, nonetheless, this deal is our opportunity to write the rules of global trade, particularly in the Pacific where China commands a growing influence. I understand that goal and I share it, and I fully concur that there are compelling geopolitical reasons to expand our engagement in the Pacific. I also recognize and appreciate that the deal preserves important protections for intellectual property rights and copyright, a vital issue for the creative industry that I am so proud to represent.  For these reasons, I hope that a subsequent Administration can negotiate a different kind of treaty for the Pacific region, and one that better protects American workers while also expanding our influence in the region.  American workers and businesses can outcompete anyone on an even playing field, but I'm not convinced that TPP provides one. 

Our nation has always prided itself on its upward mobility, and a strong middle class. To compete and win globally, America should be investing far more in education, training to prepare workers for high-skilled jobs, infrastructure, and data-driven industries. Until we do more to ensure that American workers have the support they need and deserve, and that trade agreements are structured to broadly benefit the American people, I will continue to view them with a healthy skepticism.  And the TPP as it currently stands does not meet these essential requirements.