LETTER: Trade agreements like the TPP diminish local control

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Updated: February 8, 2016

Originally published in the Dickinson Press, 2.6.16

By Link Reinhiller of Beulah, ND

Trade agreements start with multinational corporations working very close with negotiators without public input. The Obama administration and 11 other Pacific countries signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Feb. 4.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer all supported “fast-tracking” this agreement to allow Obama and his corporate advisors to finalize negotiations without consulting the public.

Congress can’t make changes to the TPP, they only vote yes or no. This needs to be fixed. When it comes to trade agreements the negotiators need to contact our legislators prior to the negotiations so they know what the public needs.

These are not the usual agreements to encourage trade. They give corporations the power to undercut our environmental, health, safety, and labor laws and regulations. The TPP would trump U.S laws and policies.

Trade is vital to North Dakota’s economy but it must be in the interests of farmers, ranchers, workers and local businesses. Recently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat and it was repealed by Congress.

Our trading partners felt our ability to know where our meat comes from is an unfair trade barrier. These trade agreements take away local control and diminish democracy.