Kaela Berg: TPP is dead, but fight for fair trade isn’t over

web.fasttrack-KaelaBergMany of us are left reeling from the results of the 2016 election and what it will mean for this country moving forward. The future of U.S. trade policy is unclear, as is much of the political and economic landscape.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has officially been declared “dead.” That means that, in its current form, it will not come before Congress for a vote during a lame-duck session or under the incoming administration. That is a huge victory, one that is wholly due to the incredible work of our fair trade partners, both here in Minnesota and across the nation!

We defeated the TPP by taking our collective voices to the streets in our communities – and in the halls of Congress.

We were successful in pushing back votes on so-called “Fast Track,” also known as trade promotion authority (TPA), which did ultimately pass. We asked for our governing representatives to take a firm and public stand on TPA, the TPP and trade policy overall. Our fair trade champions did not let us down, promising full support in opposing the TPP, and also doing diligent work in Washington to urge their colleagues to do the same.

Around the TPP, we focused on public outreach and education, hosting joint events with our member organizations where we could engage in thoughtful dialogue with community, faith, labor, environmental and student groups to provide accurate information and strategic tools to broaden our mobilizing scope.

To everyone who helped us in this tireless and relentless work, I thank you, I am humbled by you, I see you and am honored to stand in solidarity with you.

So here we are, poised on the brink of a new presidential administration, and the TPP as we know it is no longer a threat. While we can all take a moment to savor and reflect on a job well done, we still have more battles on the horizon.

As a result of Brexit – the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union – negotiations for two other massive, looming trade agreements have stalled. But those agreements, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), will likely become a focus of the new administration.

Additionally, President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on promises to “tear up NAFTA” and redefine how the U.S. does trade. If he does, in fact, make good on those promises, our work will be cut out for us. Let me be clear: Trump’s pro-corporate trade agenda is not our trade agenda.

Working families still need us. Communities both here and across the globe that will suffer most under the repressive and violent nature of U.S. trade and military policy still need us. The necessity to address climate change is more critical than ever, and for that we are still needed.

These are just a few reasons for remaining vigilant in holding our government accountable to the will of the people rather than the siren call of capitalism, and why a shift towards fair and inclusive trade policy must prevail. While uncertainty abounds, I am confident that our coalition will take up with renewed resolve, energy and dedication the call to action.

– Kaela Berg is director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition, which unites more than 40 Minnesota labor, faith, environmental, social justice and family farm organizations working in support of trade policy that respects working people, family farmers, the environment and democracy. Learn more about the organization on its Facebook page.

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