Early in May, the Senate Finance Committee voted to exclude “Tier 3” human trafficking countries from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reported The Huffington Post. Now, politicians are working to weaken the government’s stance against human trafficking to make the TPP more inclusive.
When a country has a “Tier 3” rating, that means it’s on a list of the worst countries for human trafficking in the world. Malaysia was part of the TPP deal, until its Tier 3 rating for human trafficking excluded it. However, in recent weeks, politicians have weakened their approach on Tier 3 countries, and the House Ways and Means Committee looks to reverse the Finance Committee’s vote.
Malaysia uses forced labor in the electronics and garment industries, and uses child labor to produce palm oil, HuffPo reported. A mass grave containing 139 bodies of men, women, and children was recently found in Malaysia. The dead are thought to have been victims of human trafficking.
Sen. Bob Menendez was once one of those on the committee calling for Malaysia’s exclusion, but he recently weakened his position.
“Any Tier 3-rated nation hoping to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership will have to . . . make concrete efforts to meet the standards stipulated in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act or they will not have the benefit of privileged, fast-track access to our market – Period!” said Menendez.
Malaysia is a country with a cancerous human trafficking problem. It’s foolish of Menendez to believe that a stipulated inclusion into the TPP will cure such a problem. His approach is similar to a parent of misbehaving children saying “I’m going to turn my back, you better play nice, or no dessert.”
The administration has been pushing this trade deal for years, and it doesn’t want slavery laws from advancing the TPP, said economist Dean Baker. In short, the administration will push the deal, slavery or no slavery.
The TPP is a dangerous trade deal that will only help corporations while costing jobs for thousands of Americans. What’s worse, politicians want to overlook human tragedies for the benefit of their campaign dollars and the TPP.