Democrats Unite to Support Trans-Pacific Partnership

Democrats Unite to Support Trans-Pacific PartnershipDemocrats Unite to Support Trans-Pacific Partnership

The US Democratic Party has voted against an amendment to its platform that would oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The discursive move is a nod toward one of President Barack Obama’s projects.

The initial proposal, made by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., to oppose the controversial trade deal was rejected by members of the Democratic National Convention’s drafting committee, which is briefed with coming up with the party’s platform for the Philadelphia convention in July. It backed a measure that said “there are a diversity of views in the party” on the TPP, AP reported.

It also reaffirmed that Democrats want any trade deal “to protect workers and the environment.”

The original text for the party’s program had rejected the Pacific Rim trade pact, which has also been opposed by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Both Clinton and Sanders’ aides reportedly went through the 15,000-word draft of the platform line by line after long hours of policy discussions between the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee.

“This platform is an aspirational document that speaks to what the Democratic Party stands for,” the panel’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said.

TPP is a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries signed in February, with measures to lower trade barriers such as tariffs and establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.

The 12 nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The Obama administration considers TPP to be a companion agreement to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a broadly similar agreement between the US and the EU.

Free trade is a key element in the ongoing presidential election debate, with presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump purportedly now also an avowed protectionist.

The issue plays into themes related to managing the domestic effects of globalization, US competitiveness and notions of what the state can and should do.

These cut across party lines, although the left—epitomized most clearly by Sanders, but also pulling Clinton leftward with him—tends to see free trade as a means of undercutting collective bargaining and workers’ rights.

Clinton, for long a free-trade supporter, is looking to encourage Sanders supporters to vote for her in November. On the other hand, neither the party nor the party’s candidate want to be seen as undermining the legacy of Obama.

Obama has promoted TPP despite opposition from rank-and-file Democrats and members of the panel said it would be wrong to undercut the outgoing president in the platform.