With President Obama pressuring Congress to relinquish its constitutional authority over foreign trade agreements and its responsibility to represent all of us by allow the executive office to fast track the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) it is worth looking at the local impacts after 20 years of NAFTA. Signed amidst a lot of hype in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has failed to meet any of its promises. A new report “NAFTA at 20” details just what a colossal failure NAFTA has been.
More than 845,000 specific U.S. workers have been certified for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) as having lost their jobs due to imports from Canada and Mexico or the relocation of factories to those countries.
4 The TAA program is quite narrow, only covering a subset of the jobs lost at manufacturing facilities, and is difficult to qualify for. Thus, the NAFTA TAA numbers significantly undercount NAFTA job loss.
According to the US Dept of Labor, “Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) help trade-affected workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States. Certified individuals may be eligible to receive one or more program benefits and services depending on what is needed to return them to employment.” An interactive tool prepared by the Public Citizen, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Database allows you check “all TAA petitions certified or denied between January 1994 and July 2011.”
In Coos County an estimated 207 employees working for companies like Roseburg Forest Products have been certified for TAA having lost their jobs as a consequence of NAFTA.
If you include the petitions denied from companies like Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific and even Sause Bros, the number jobs lost to NAFTA rises to 969.
The TPP is being characterized as “NAFTA on Steroids” by critics of the trade agreement and if NAFTA is any indication of what Coos County can expect if Obama signs the super secret TPP into law, everyone should be calling their federal representatives and insisting they not agree to fast track its implementation.