Bellows Comments to Citizen Trade Policy Commission
December 12, 2013
Citizen Trade Policy Commission, State House Station #13, Augusta, ME 04333-0013
Dear Senator Jackson and Representative Treat:
Thank you for holding this important hearing on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP has been too secret for too long, and government secrecy breeds mistrust and abuse of power. This hearing is an important step in raising public awareness about the nature of the proposal and the extent to which it will impact Mainers. I hope that the Administration and Congress will follow your lead in making its proceedings around the TPP more open and transparent to public review and input. It is concerning that we, the people, are forced to comment without full and fair information about the TPP details.
Our democracy depends upon an informed citizenry. Without freedom of information, we can only offer our concerns and views with the caveat that secrecy prevents us from reviewing the agreement in detail. What has been revealed about TPP drafts to date is concerning. Leaked drafts of the TPP suggest that the agreement:
- Fails to protect workers’ rights and may lead to more job losses here at home;
- Fails to put in place adequate environmental standards;
- May drive small farmers and food producers out of business;
- May undermine food safety; and
- Undermines freedom of speech with sweeping changes to international patent law that may allow patenting of plants, animals and medical procedures.
Compounding the gravity of these concerns is the danger that the TPP may be approved under fast-track authority. Fast-track authority used to pass previous international trade agreements has harmed the environment, international labor standards and led directly to job losses here at home.
Congress should reject fast-track trade authorization of the TPP and should hold full and fair public hearings about the TPP to address the serious concerns already raised here in Maine and across the country.
We are increasingly interconnected in a global economy. International trade is important to Maine’s economy, but international trade agreements must be fair trade agreements – protecting workers’ rights at home and abroad, protecting the environment for future generations and protecting consumer safety. A trade agreement that reflects these values is good for the global economy and for human rights.
Thank you for your consideration.