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posted: 4/11/2014 12:01 AM

TPA deal skirts Congress, public

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TPA deal skirts Congress, public

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I'm referring to your April 4 Guest Column by Henrik Fogh Rasmussen. In that column Mr. Rasmussen, an international trade economist, argues that Congress grant Trade Promotion Authority to the administration.

This would, according to Mr. Rasmussen, allow the administration to bring ongoing negotiations on two major international trade agreements to a successful conclusion. He adds, "TPA also creates a framework in which business groups, U.S. negotiators and Congress can work together to craft the most advantageous deals." Where is the public in this framework? Don't bother writing your Senators or congressman; by granting TPA, Congress effectively moves itself to the sidelines.

Mr. Rasmussen spends many column inches generalizing the benefits of international trade and the benefits to Illinois. With that I have no major disagreement. I do dispute his attachment to the two draft agreements in question: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. The TPP is particular is being negotiated in secret. As drafts of the proposed treaty dribble out there is increasing opposition -- even among the Congress.

Of the TPP's 29 chapters, only five actually deal with free trade. Other provisions pose a threat to free labor, intellectual property, and the environment. As for giving a "boost" to exports, some analyses see only a small gain.

The public should certainly inform itself about these two agreements. Granting Mr. Rasmussen's wish for TPA only keeps them in the closet.

Michael A Rugh

Lake in the Hills

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