Democrats ask Froman to explain labor issues in TPP

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2014 - Four House Democrats are asking U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to provide details on labor provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before the ambitious trade deal is finalized.

In a letter, the lawmakers noted that Labor Department's annual List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor cited TPP nations Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, and Malaysia for labor abuses. The report, prepared by the department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, was released Monday.

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“Free trade agreements with nations that violate international child labor or forced labor standards not only undermine our moral authority, but they also capitalize on the lack of oversight and regulation in developing nations,” the letter reads. It was written by Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and George Miller and Loretta Sanchez of California.

“Here in this country, we have fought hard to protect our workers, yet our free trade policy undermines those protections by sending jobs to countries that do not play by the rules,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

The lawmakers requested a briefing about the labor issues within TPP negotiations. “Froman owes us a candid and truthful discussion about worker rights in the agreement,” DeLauro told reporters Thursday on a conference call.

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Representatives of the TPP countries will meet in Washington next week for their next round of negotiations.

The TPP is a regional negotiation that includes the U.S. Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

U.S. exports of agricultural products to TPP countries worth worth $58.8 billion in 2013, or 85 percent of total, according to USTR.

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