Job losses make TPP a major US election issue

14 March 2016

 Last week we published an explainer of the US election and what it could mean for the TPP, given that all main presidential candidates are opposed to the deal.

Since then, democrat candidate Hilary Clinton has ramped up her criticism of the deal after her loss of a key primary vote in Michigan was attributed to rival Bernie Sanders' stronger anti-TPP stance.

It has highlighted the fact that the TPP and free trade have become key election issues among voters on both sides of politics in the US.

A recent Politico news story read:

"The rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign has effectively weaponized free trade, turning it into a proxy for corporate greed, in Sanders’ critique, or for government incompetence and politicians who put the interests of corporate contributors over those of everyday Americans, in Trump’s.”

Similarly, the Wall Street Journal reported: 

"After decades in which successive Republican and Democratic presidents have pushed to open U.S. and global markets, resentment toward free trade now appears to have the upper hand in both parties, making passage this year of a sweeping Pacific trade deal far less likely and clouding the longer-term outlook for international economic exchange.”

US citizens have put up with wage stagnation in recent years and a declining manufacturing sector, espeically in Midwestern states, which is attributed in a large part to cheaper imports flooding in because of trade deals.

Trade has steadily become a divisive issue in the US ever since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force and its effects were felt across the country.

The recent results of primaries in Michigan and Mississippi show that trade is now a key issue for both Democrat and Republican voters.

It’s clear that in the US voters are beginning to understand the main problem with recent so-called “free" trade deals like the TPP - that they are increasingly written for the interests of large global corporations and at the expense of ordinary working people.