By ELIZABETH COLUCCIO
The City Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday to keep New York City free from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and urged Congress not to grant President Obama fast track authority to implement the deal.
The TPP deal was in negotiation among a dozen countries, including the United States. Proponents say that the pact is vital to making the United States a part of the global economy. Critics, on the other hand, say that the trade agreement could negatively affect labor rights and small businesses, as well as give corporations too much power and cause the price of medicine to skyrocket.
Critics also complained of the secrecy surrounding the agreement, as the full text has not been made public.
Congress is considering granting the president, who supports the deal, the power to negotiate while allowing Congress to approve or disapprove but not amend. Japan, among other participating nations, says it would not enter the partnership until Obama is granted this authority.
Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin made their disapproval known in a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in December last year.
Earlier on Tuesday, seven members of the City Council Committee on State and Federal Legislation also voted unanimously after twenty groups, including the labor movement and environment and human rights groups, testified Monday in favor of the making New York a TPP-Free zone. No group testified to oppose.
Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who proposed the resolution, said these groups stand for the great number of Americans who are “gravely concerned” about TPP’s fast track through Congress.
“We hope to send a strong message to Congress and the President to hit the pause button and open the trade agreement to public and robust debate and dialogue,” said Rosenthal.