By Igor Volsky and Victoria Fleischer
On Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on legislation that will fast track a secret trade deal involving the United States and 11 other countries.
Here is how it will impact your new pair of jeans.
IGOR VOLSKY: These ordinary jeans was imported from Vietnam. I paid $45 for it. But a new deal, negotiated in secret, could dramatically alter this simple transaction. Find out how on TPV!
Elizabeth Warren and President Obama are in a feud over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement between the US and 11 other countries that will govern the trade of goods and services.
Currently, 98% of the clothes you wear are imported and Vietnam is our second largest supplier.
When these jeans immigrated to America, Vietnamese manufacturers paid a tariff of approximately 17%. That tariff was passed on to me in the form of a price increase.
With the TPP, Vietnam would be able to send these jeans without paying that extra fee. That means that I would pay less at the Gap or Macy’s and probably have more choice styles! Maybe acid wash will come back?
The new deal would also help the Vietnamese textile industry attract new investors and create jobs. In exchange, Vietnam would have to improve its poor labor conditions and allow workers to organize — though it’s still unclear how those new standards would be enforced. American businesses would also benefit. That’s because in return for eliminating the tariff on my new jeans, TPP countries like Vietnam would have to open their markets to more American exports
But it’s not all roses or should I say, cheaper jeans?
Allowing Vietnam to sell more of these jeans in America could lead to a further contraction of the American textile industry, displacing manufacturing jobs or lowering wages. Loss of income among lower-paid employees — who would now have to compete against each other for lower-paid jobs — would worsen the nation’s income gap.
The TPP also extends beyond these jeans — containing agreements that don’t just affect trade.One provision allows companies to take governments before an arbitration tribunal and argue that certain laws interfere with their bottom line. Opponents of the TPP argue that these tribunals give corporations too much say over government affairs.
So this isn’t just about the jeans. It’s about who makes the jeans, the conditions where the jeans were made, and whether the jean’s manufacturer has a say in other country’s laws.
And you thought this was just a fashion statement…