What You Should Know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Government Agency Overseeing US Trade Deals

By Elaine Magliaro

“A Corporate Trojan Horse”: Critics Decry Secretive TPP Trade Deal as a Threat to Democracy

Lee Fang has an important article about the agency that is overseeing trade deals for the United States over at The Intercept. According to Fang, The Intercept obtained disclosure forms which show that the Office of the United Trade Representative “is being led by former lobbyists for corporations that stand to benefit from the deals.” That’s probably no surprise to those of us who are aware of the “revolving door” syndrome that afflicts many agencies of our federal government.

Fang said that the Obama administration has been pushing hard to complete two trade deals: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a proposed free trade accord between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is a similar agreement between the U.S. and the E.U.

Critics—including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alan Grayson—have warned about the negative impact that these trade deals will have on the United States…and on its people. Some critics “say the deals will provide corporate interests with sweeping powers to challenge banking and environmental regulations.”

In his article, Lee Fang provided information about three major figures in the Trade Representative’s office, which was gleaned from their disclosure forms.


— Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, the assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs, recently lobbied for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a trade group for biotech companies. Lauritsen’s financial disclosure form shows she made $320,193 working to influence “state, federal and international governments” on biotech patent and intellectual property issues. She worked for BIO as an executive vice president through April of 2011, before joining the Trade Representative office.

— Christopher Wilson, the deputy chief of mission to the World Trade Organization, recently worked for C&M International, a trade consulting group, where he represented Chevron, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, British American Tobacco, General Electric, Apple and other corporate interests. Wilson’s financial disclosure shows he made $250,000 a year, in addition to an $80,000 bonus in 2013, before he joined the Obama administration. Wilson left C&M International in February of 2014 and later joined the Trade Representative’s office. C&M International reportedly lobbied Malaysia, urging it to oppose tobacco regulations in Australia.

— Robert Holleyman, the deputy United States trade representative, previously worked as the president of the Business Software Alliance, a lobbying group that represents IBM, Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and other technology companies seeking to strengthen copyright law. Holleyman earned $1,141,228 at BSA before his appointment. Holleyman was nominated for his current position in February of last year.

These disclosures about the revolving door at the trade agency come after U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman received scrutiny over a special bonus paid to him in 2009 after he left Citigroup to join the Obama administration as deputy assistant to the president. Froman received more than $7.4 million from Citi in the year prior to joining the administration.



Agency Overseeing Obama Trade Deals Filled With Former Trade Lobbyists (The Intercept)

“A Corporate Trojan Horse”: Critics Decry Secretive TPP Trade Deal as a Threat to Democracy (Democracy Now!)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Another Bad Trade Deal for the United States Like NAFTA? (Flowers for Socrates)

Some Things You Should Know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Senator Elizabeth Warren and Others Have Major Concerns Regarding the Trade Pact That Is Being Negotiated in Secrecy (Flowers for Socrates)

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6 Responses to What You Should Know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Government Agency Overseeing US Trade Deals

  1. Mike Spindell says:

    Any time we see major trade deals being pushed forward in secrecy we can know for certain it will hrt America and its citizens. Just as Clinton pushed NAFTA, Obama’s pushing these “trade partnerships” shows who is really in charge of America.

  2. swarthmoremom says:

    These trade deals have not benefited the American worker. Quite the contrary has happened.

  3. rafflaw says:

    The TPP is the ultimate give away to the corporations that are pulling the strings of the government. Fascism at its best or worst! How can any politician approve this when it will allow corporations to avoid our laws and actually sue the government if any law gets in their way? Oh, I forgot, they are paid employees of the corporations so they must do their masters bidding.

  4. Quite honestly, the sheer scale of fascist skullduggery behind the TPP is the kind of thing that makes me consider giving up politics in favor of something less likely to make me burst in to flames.

  5. rafflaw says:

    Bursting into flames is likely if the corporations can ignore domestic laws!

  6. Elaine M. says:

    This just in:

    Key House Democrat Vows To Scuttle Obama’s Fast-Track Trade Authority

    WASHINGTON — Just before President Barack Obama pleaded with members of his party on Friday to support a bill to “fast track” his proposed trade agreements, the top Democrat on the House committee writing the legislation criticized the president for squandering the chance to win that support.

    ‘The administration and the Republicans have missed an opportunity which could have led to a bipartisan support that always has been my aim,” Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters shortly before Obama spoke at a press conference on Friday.

    On Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), introduced legislation that would give Obama the ability to fast track his controversial trade pacts. The bill, known officially as Trade Promotion Authority, would raise Obama’s chances of success by permitting expedited procedures in Congress that bar amendments and stop senators from mounting filibusters.

    Obama needs TPA in order to negotiate a number of massive global trade deals, with the two largest being the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a dozen nations and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe. Together, these two agreements — which would cover about two-thirds of global trade — dwarf all previous trade pacts, including NAFTA.

    Levin said that by failing to address Democrats’ concerns about the deals, Obama and the sponsors of the TPA legislation had dramatically raised the chances that opponents will seek to block the measure.

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