Trade agreement threatens Maine jobs and wages

As early as this month, Congress will vote up or down whether or not to enter into the Transatlantic Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, a treaty that some call “NAFTA* on steroids”. MECEP submitted testimony to the U.S. International Trade Commission outlining the dangers the treaty poses to Maine’s economy.

Maine’s emblematic fishing industry provides one example of how the TPP agreement will contribute to job loss and increase wage and income inequality. The TPP will reduce or eliminate trade barriers on fish and seafood imports from New Zealand, Vietnam, and other TPP countries. As a result, Maine fishermen will be forced to compete with fishing vessels that use forced labor, with aquaculture producers that use chemicals and antibiotics banned in the U.S., and with seafood processors with less regulatory oversight.

With the increasing cost of fuel, gear, and bait, the threat of shell disease and warming waters, and the risk of drowning from high waves or entanglement in trap lines, Maine’s fishing families already live precariously on the edge. Unfair competition from TPP countries will put them out of business and out of a livelihood. Deep cuts or even the loss of our fishing industry would not just be a blow to Maine’s economy, but to our heritage and culture.

MECEP understands that the purpose of the TPP trade agreement is to promote economic opportunity across world boundaries. But this agreement will make it easier for U.S. companies to shift production overseas, exploit the less rigorous labor and environmental standards in those trade partner countries, and pay lower prevailing wages to their workers abroad.  It will make wage and income inequality worse both domestically and internationally.

Free trade must be fair trade, and TPP is neither. MECEP urges Maine’s Congressional Delegation to reject the proposed TPP agreement.

To read MECEP’s full testimony, click here.

*North American Free Trade Agreement