Crown Heights

Hamilton urges Congress to oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership

Says trade agreement would hurt economic development here

April 11, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Sen. Jesse Hamilton, speaking at City Hall, says the Trans-Pacific Partnership would pose a serious threat to New Yorkers. Photo courtesy of Hamilton’s office
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On the surface, it wouldn’t seem as if the Pacific Rim has much to do with Brooklyn. But state Sen. Jesse Hamilton said that what is happening on the other side of the globe has a deep impact here. 

Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn) gathered a group of elected officials together to call on New York State’s congressional delegation to vote against ratifying the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Hamilton and 21 of his colleagues in government signed a letter to the New York delegation urging them to vote against the TPP. The signatories from Brooklyn included state Sens. Martin Dilan, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker and Daniel Squadron.

At a City Hall rally on April 7, Hamilton said TPP would hurt workers here. 

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“I am honored to represent the people of Central Brooklyn, fighting for our neighborhoods and the rights of all New Yorkers. TPP poses a serious threat to those rights — endangering our ability to uphold consumer rights, our ability to combat unfair labor practices and our ability to impose regulations that keep our air clean and our water safe to drink,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton also charged that one provision of TPP, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system, “would empower foreign corporations to attack New York’s laws outside our courts in unaccountable tribunals.”

The TPP is a multi-national agreement signed by 12 countries on Feb. 4 in Auckland, New Zealand, after seven years of negotiations. 

The agreement, which the U.S. has yet to sign onto, concerns public policy and trade issues, with a stated goal to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.”

The TPP contains measures to lower trade tariffs. 

In their letter, the local lawmakers cited threats to the rights of New Yorkers and the potential for undermining New York laws in terms of economic development, public health, environmental protection and consumer rights as reasons to turn down TPP.

The letter also cited New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s analysis of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system that the TPP would establish.

“Under TPP, certain foreign targets of enforcement actions, unable to prevail in domestic courts, could take their cases to TPP’s dispute resolution tribunals. Unbound by an established body of law or precedent, the tribunals would be able to simply sidestep domestic courts. And decisions by these tribunals cannot be appealed,” Schneiderman wrote in Politico in 2015.

The terms of TPP would restrict state action in many areas, according to Hamilton and other opponents, who said the agreement includes provisions that set constraints on state policy.

Proponents said that TPP would not only strengthen the U.S.’s position in the global economy, but would also help national security.

In a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington D.C., U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said it was important for Congress to pass TPP, The Hill reported.

Carter said that without TPP, the U.S. is at risk of losing advantages in the Pacific region. 

“Without TPP’s economic and strategic benefits the alternative is a regional economy with standards that don’t serve American interests, and one that’s carved up by lopsided, coercively negotiated, lower-standard deals. That’s why I’ve said that TPP is as strategically important to the rebalance as an aircraft carrier, and I strongly urge Congress to approve TPP this year,” The Hill quoted Carter as saying.

Republican leaders in Congress have stated that the earliest TPP would come up for vote is during the lame-duck session after the presidential election, The Hill reported.

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