Alex Jackimovicz is an electrical contractor and business owner from Boothbay ME and serves on the steering committee of the Maine Small Business Coalition.
Alex Jackimovicz, Maine Beacon -
After carefully considering all the terms outlined in the TPP, the
members of the Maine Small Business Coalition, along with the Maine Fair
Trade Campaign and thousands of other business and worker’s groups
across the country, believe that the answer to every one of those deeper
questions is no.
Our opposition to the TPP is broad and varied, but here is a short summary of the issues that we find most disturbing:
As a result of globalization, there has been a consolidation of
industries that has created great disruption of regional and local
economies. Regional and local leaders used to provide localized economic
development plans that met the needs of the local communities. Now, the
needs of the local communities are overlooked in favor of large-scale
corporate benefit. This leaves those in small American communities to
pay the price at the local level. Jobs are outsourced, and manufacturing
of goods purchased locally has been moved. In addition, locally made
goods and services can’t compete with the prices of goods where
production is subsidized and where economies ‘of scale’ are making huge
amounts of cheaply produced products for export. Economic globalization
and free trade has had dire impacts on workers and local communities. In
addition to literally re-locating jobs to locations where profit comes
at the expense of worker wages, human rights, and the environment, free
trade agreements in the industrialized nations have strengthened the
ability of employers to accept lower wages and benefits.
of the more disturbing TPP requirements affecting small, local
businesses includes procurement waivers that eliminate “Buy American”
and “Buy Local” preferences that are currently found in many types of
government purchasing contracts. Buy American policies require most
federal government purchases of goods to go to American firms, which
allows tax dollars to be recycled back into our economy. Under TPP
requirements, Buy American would be effectively gutted, as TPP rules
require that foreign corporations receive “national treatment” in
government procurement bids. This will allow foreign corporations to
take over the local procurement markets and effectively export American
jobs directly tied to federal procurement laws, by ‘off-shoring’ our tax
- While previous trade agreements were aimed to open up
new markets, a primary intention of the TPP is to reduce or eliminate
state and federal regulations that are viewed as “trade irritants,”
which is likely to eliminate many small markets nationally and globally.
To deal with “barriers to trade,” an expansive body of investor rights
takes up most of the text of the TPP. The TPP sets up a system of
independent, extra-governmental, secret tribunals, known as an
Investor-State Dispute Settlement ) system. This system allows
corporations the right to sue for losses from ‘expected future profits,’
such as when business profits could be hurt by environmental or
regulatory standards that rise above an accepted standard for all
signatory nations–except as they pertain to ‘investor rights’. These
private three-person corporate tribunals will be given greater rights
and more power to arbitrate disagreements than even the Supreme Court of
the United States!
What this means for states like Maine and
Vermont is that state labeling laws (including GMO-labeling, and
identifying products as being produced locally) may be vulnerable to
litigation, and thus struck down. Numerous health warnings and nutrition
information labels are at risk of being viewed as “barriers to trade”
and eliminated. There is also a threat of litigation for evolving
environmental, health and safety standards that meet the needs of local
people, or from local procurement laws (after a three year window
eclipses) if they are viewed as impeding corporate profitability. This
will have a definite chilling effect on regulatory standards, while also
diminishing the regulatory sovereignty of local, state and national
governments, since foreign corporations can sue nations, states, and
municipalities for any losses to ‘expected future profits’ that may
result from any such regulation. This takes away our control at the
local level to determine the quality of life that we wish to promote in
our communities and on behalf of our citizens.
The aims of the
TPP are contrary to the interests of small, local businesses in Maine.
The TPP will not strengthen our local economies. It will not result in
workers seeing higher wages, or allow environmental and safety standards
to be strengthened. It will not allow greater access to locally
produced goods and services. In fact, the opposite is true.
can and should collectively look at the big picture and realize that in
adopting the provisions of the TPP, we are forcing our Maine businesses
to compete with thousands of foreign corporations that do not have our
labor laws, health and safety regulations, or environmental standards.
We will be facing a ‘race to the bottom’ to compete with those countries
that maintain archaic standards that violate the rights of the people
and the environment on nearly every level. This isn’t good for our
communities, or our state or national governments. And, it certainly
isn’t good for our livelihoods.