Nobel-Winning Economist: TPP 'Worst Trade Deal Ever'

| by Robert Fowler
Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph StiglitzNobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz

Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, an American economist, has slammed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as harmful to the average worker and the environment.

The TPP has been the Obama administration's main trade initiative. Ambassador Darci Vetter, the U.S. chief agricultural trade negotiator who helped broker the ambitious trade deal, has been touring the country to pitch its economic benefits to American workers, according to Delta Farm Press.

"The TPP is a free-trade agreement negotiated among 12 Asia Pacific countries," Vetter explained during a March 29 appearance at the University of Arkansas. "Forty percent of global GDP is around the TPP table."

Vetter added that the TPP would lower tariffs and streamline trade agreements between nations such as the U.S., Canada, Japan and Vietnam. According to the ambassador, the countries involved in the TPP will account for two-thirds of the global middle class by 2030.

Stiglitz, a renowned economist who teaches at Columbia University in New York City, has voiced disapproval of the comprehensive trade agreement, calling it the "worst trade deal ever," according to CBC News.

On April 1, Stiglitz delivered a keynote speech at the University of Ottawa, which hosted a conference debating Canada’s participation in the TPP.

The American economist cautioned the Canadian government against supporting the TPP in its current form, citing that the trade agreement will enable polluters to sue governments that pass carbon emission taxes.

"It used to be the basic principle was polluters pay," Stiglitz told CBC News the day before his speech. "If you damaged the environment, then you have to pay. Now if you pass a regulation that restricts ability to pollute or does something about climate change, you could be sued and could pay billions of dollars."

According to Stiglitz, the TPP will not particularly benefit the average worker in the U.S. or Canada and will instead greatly benefit international corporations. The economist warned that the deal could put a lid on raising the minimum wage or encourage predatory lending practices, adding that "this deal was done in secret with corporate interests at the table."

The American economist concluded that Canada should pressure the U.S. to rework the deal so that the agreement would favor the average worker over corporations.

While President Barack Obama has signed the TPP, the trade agreement is awaiting congressional approval.

During his University of Arkansas visit, Vetter warned that "if we fail to implement TPP, the other countries will continue to negotiate trade deals," Delta Farm Press notes.

"The world isn’t standing still," Vetter added, "[countries] are lowering their tariffs with each other and we’re standing outside.”

All of the presidential candidates vying to succeed Obama save for Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio oppose the TPP. Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has voiced disapproval of the trade agreement despite calling it the "gold standard" in 2012.

During a sit-down with MSNBC, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker voiced bafflement at Clinton’s reversal on the deal.

"I don’t understand that conclusion," Pritzker said, according to Real Clear Politics. "Because frankly, having looked at the agreement … it is the Gold Standard. It is the toughest trade agreement out there in the world … TPP creates an absolute level playing field for American companies.”

Sources: CBC News, Delta Farm PressReal Clear Politics / Photo Credit: UNIDO/Flickr

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