Europe Backs Away from Trade Deal Designed to Increase Corporate Profits and Undermine Environmental Regulation

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Friday, 14 June 2013 05:25

The Washington Post shows as little regard for standards of journalistic objectivity in its coverage of trade deals as in its coverage of Social Security. Therefore it was not surprising to see this line in an article reporting on the European Union's decision to restrict areas to be covered in a new trade pact with the United States:

"The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a centerpiece of the Obama administration's accelerating push on trade and international economic relations to boost U.S. growth and jobs."

Really? The Post knows that boosting growth and jobs is the main purpose of the Obama administration's trade agenda? That could be the case, but given the central role that corporate lobbyists are playing in designing the agenda it might be reasonable to believe that boosting corporate profits is a high priority. This does not necessarily mean boosting growth and creating jobs and in fact may mean the exact opposite.

For example, when trade agreements increase patent or other barriers on the sale of prescription drugs it will raise the price of these drugs in other countries, pulling money out of consumers pockets and leaving them with less money to spend on other items produced in the United States. This will boost corporate profits but will lower growth and hurt employment. The same is true of many other items on the agenda of U.S. trade negotiators.

The Post need not pass judgment on the motives of the Obama administration in these negotiations. It just should follow normal journalistic standards and report the administration's claims about its agenda (along with the claims of critics) and let readers make up their own minds. It is irresponsible to simply assert that the motives claimed by the administration are its true motives, especially when so much evidence points in the opposite direction.