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Local Leaders Release Analysis Showing Central New York Losing Jobs under Free Trade Agreements; Small Businesses’ Exports Limited

In International, Trade on April 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Groups Call on Representatives Hanna, Katko, and Stefanik to Stand with Middle Class Families against Fast Tracking Trade Deals

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Utica, NY –At a news conference today in Utica, a coalition of national, state, and local labor, environmental, and consumer groups called on Representatives Hanna, Katko, and Stefanik to stand with middle class families against Fast Tracking trade deals that will offshore more good-paying jobs, dampen state manufacturing and agricultural exports, and fuel the demise of New York’s middle class.  Advocates also raised concerns that this trade deal will weaken environmental protections such as New York’s fracking ban, threaten food safety, gut regulations to protect people from Wall Street banks, and raise prescription drug prices.

The TPP is currently being pushed by global corporations and negotiated in secret between the United States and 11 other countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam which make up 40 percent of the world economy.  Trade policies adopted under Fast Track have already resulted in one million American jobs lost and 60,000 factories closed. The rushed deals have jeopardized the safety of our food and overturned environmental protections.

The news conference was sponsored by the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., Central New York Labor Council, Sierra Club, MoveOn.org of New York, Syracuse Peace Council, Citizen Action of New York, Food and Water Watch, and Mohawk Valley Climate Change and Political Action.

The group released an analysis that shows a growing trade deficit for the top ten New York exports to Korea since the 2011 trade pact.  The Korea trade pact serves as the template for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the deal for which President Obama is now seeking Fast Track. The data also shows jobs lost in New York under the past trade pacts, New York income inequality trends, and small business share of state exports.

“Despite promises that past controversial trade pacts would boost exports, government data show that New York’s exports to trade pact partners have actually lagged behind its exports to the rest of the world.  And in the first two years of the Korea trade pact used as the template for the TPP, U.S. exports to Korea have fallen in the top ten products that New York exports to Korea – from apples to transportation equipment – while the U.S. trade deficit with Korea in those products has grown 24 percent, displacing New York jobs. Now that the same broken promises are being trotted out for the TPP, New York’s workers have every reason to reject an expansion of the trade status quo,” said John Furman, president of the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.

Mr. Furman also pointed out that under NAFTA and corporate globalization, between 1970 and 2000, the Utica-Rome area economy lost over 20,000 manufacturing jobs and 42,000 residents or 12 percent of its population.  Major local plants such as Oneida LTD, Chicago Pneumatic, and General Electric closed due to foreign competition and NAFTA.   Mr. Furman said that it is likely that manufacturing and many other jobs like call centers may be outsourced if Fast Track and TPP are approved.

The report also shows how the proposed trade deal will negatively affect the local economy, undermine local economic development efforts, and overturn laws protecting family farmers.  Mr. Furman continued:  “TPP will restrict local governments from reducing pollution and environmental protection, make it possible for corporations to undermine local and state fracking bans, and allow global corporations to challenge Buy American and Buy Local Laws.”

The groups are asking local residents to contact their members of Congress at 877-852-4710 and tell them vote NO to Fast Track authority for secret trade deals like the TPP.  Mr. Furman said:  “The TPP and Fast Track are a bad deal for the residents of Central New York and will cripple our community efforts to get back on track from the recent recession.  We must let our representatives know that they are accountable to us and must put our interests first before those of big corporations and other countries.”

A new original song – “Let’s Stop the TPP” – composed by local musician Albert Izzo – was debuted at the news conference.  This song will be made available to groups throughout the nation fighting for trade policies that protect workers, communities, and the environment.  The link to the song is:  https://youtu.be/H8BKUs3IhWw

The spokespeople for the sponsoring organizations also took issue with TPP and Fast Track.

“Will we let tribunals of Corporate Lawyers overturn Buy American and Buy Local laws? Will we give Multinational Corporations more power to ship jobs overseas, close family farms and pollute our environment?” said MoveOn.org organizer Joe Seeman. “It’s up to you to tell Congress not to Fast Track this NAFTA-on-steroids.”

Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch said:  “The Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. It endangers what matters most: the health and well-being of our families and communities. The TPP puts all of this at risk by authorizing foreign corporations to sue our government if they believe a law or standard hurts its bottom line. It’s all about deregulation that puts corporate interests over public health, safety and the environment.”

Brian Escobar of the Syracuse Peace Council said:  “The TPP is not about “freedom” or “trade.” It’s a Trojan horse for rewriting US and foreign laws to reduce workers’ power, reduce internet freedoms, and lengthen drug patents, and all in the name of trade. Most of its provisions have little to do with what most people think of as trade. Like NAFTA before, the TPP is bad for both US and foreign workers and good for owners of major companies. Rather than merely allowing products to flow across borders more easily, it protects investors who move their operations between countries, disrupting communities and workers’ lives in what amounts to a race to the bottom for workers. Both unionized and nonunionized workers can expect job insecurity, lower wages, and worse or non-existent retirement if TPP passes. While most trade agreements have been passed by Congress without ‘fast track’ or Trade Promotion Authority, the most controversial and harmful agreements like NAFTA have required TPA to allow them to bypass normal Congressional process.

Contact: John Furman, 315-725-0974

Interviews available with speakers

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