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Head of U.S. Black Chambers Supports Trans-Pacific Partnership

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Critics say an agreement could cause a further loss of manufacturing jobs, hurting black-male workers

By Frederick H. Lowe

Ron Busby, Sr., president of The U.S. Black Chambers Inc., which calls itself the National Voice of Black Business, has given his support to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which critics led by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and other progressive Democrats charge will exacerbate income inequality and cause further loss of manufacturing jobs here that have already hurt black-male workers.

But Busby sees it differently.

Ron Busby, Sr., president U.S. Black Chambers Inc., wants Congress to enact the Trade Promotion Authority.
Ron Busby, Sr., president U.S. Black Chambers Inc., wants Congress to enact the Trade Promotion Authority.

“These agreements will not only create more opportunity for black businesses to grow to scale but will allow for the entire American business community to be more competitive in the global economy,” he said in a one-paragraph statement Thursday. “The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. is committed to making black businesses aware of these upcoming opportunities, and we have dedicated a session of our annual conference to exporting. I charge Congress to enact Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)  and support the administration’s proposed free-trade agreements.”

To complete TPP, Congress first must pass the TPA, which would allow fast tracking of U.S. trade agreements.

Since 2008, the United States has been attempting to negotiate The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 countries, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

“The TPP negotiations are now at the point where most of the issues have been resolved save for the most difficult one,” wrote Joshua Meltzer, Fellow in Global Economy and Development at Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank wrote in an April 9th article titled “Pass Trade Promotion Authority and Enable Conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations.”

Meltzer noted that TPP will produce economic gains for the U.S. It will boost U.S. income by $77 billion annually. Further, expanding the TPP to an Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation-wide agreement would generate annual gains of over $266 billion for the U.S.

He admits, however, that TPA is controversial. “Much of this reflects concern about the impact on jobs from international trade,” Meltzer wrote. “As the U.S. has become an increasingly open country, the impact of globalization has led to job losses for some, particularly those working in manufacturing. Since 2000, the U.S. has lost around 5 million jobs in the manufacturing sector. Some of these job losses have been due to trade. The estimates of job losses in the manufacturing sector attributable to trade range from 15 to 20 percent of the total.”

The New York Times recently published a news story and followed it up with an editorial about 1.5 million black men 24 to 54 years old missing from civic life, mainly because they died young or are locked away in prison, many for non-violent drug offenses.

The Times editors wrote,” The severity of the crisis that has befallen African-American men since the collapse of the manufacturing and industrial centers, which was followed by the war on drugs and mass incarceration.”

Harvard Kennedy School Sociologist William Julius Wilson said the high unemployment rate for African-American men is due to the disappearance of work. This was caused by deindustrialization in which earnings declined and neighborhoods grew poorer. Many companies moved to the suburbs, far away from black men who live in the city.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose co-chairs are Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) and Raul M. Grijalva (D., Ariz), said since implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the United States has lost millions of jobs in key sectors like manufacturing. Wages have stagnated and the standard of living for working families has dropped, Ellison and Grijalva said.


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