Eastern Washington cities haven’t been taking action related to trade-promotion authority for President Obama like city councils in Seattle and Bellingham have. But a former opponent of Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, would like to see more done to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Josh Ramirez of Pasco, an independent candidate in last year’s 12-person primary to replace retiring Rep. Doc Hastings, talked to Newhouse about his support of the 12-nation trade pact at a Tuesday open house at Newhouse’s new Richland office.
Newhouse and two other Washington Republicans released a statement Monday calling the Seattle City Council’s recent vote to oppose “fast tracking” the Obama administration’s negotiations on the trade agreement “disheartening.”
Ramirez compared the Trans-Pacific Partnership to NAFTA, the 1994 agreement that eliminated tariffs on many products sent between the United States, Mexico and Canada. He blamed NAFTA on the closure of many American manufacturing businesses.
“The main thing I wanted him to know is that the free trade agreements we’ve passed have always resulted in greater trade deficits, despite the fact that they promised greater employment and economic benefits,” Ramirez said after talking to Newhouse.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership also would give new power to foreign governments to sue state or local governments to get restitution from losses, Ramirez said.
Newhouse told the Herald that he still supports the trade pact. The agreement would be beneficial for Washington, the most trade-reliant state, he said.
“We have a lot of, not just agriculture, but certainly agriculture relies on exports,” he said. “Many other companies do, as well. I’ve always been a supporter of increasing access to foreign customers. I think that that trade agreement, as well as that trade authority, would both be good tools to increase the ability of our producers to be successful overseas.”
Trade agreements are an area where Democrats and Republicans, who are often at odds with each other, come together, but not for the benefit of the country, Ramirez said. He said the increased trade deficit leads to increased unemployment, which causes taxes to be raised to help take care of those who lose their jobs.
“In my opinion, there are a lot of corporations backing up these free trade agreements,” he said. “There is a lot of talk that it supports small business, but I haven’t seen anything to back it up.”
Alicia Seegers Martinelli, spokeswoman for the Association of Washington Cities, said the Trans-Pacific Partnership hadn’t been through the organization’s federal legislative process, so it doesn’t have an opinion on it.