City Business Group Urges Congress to Pass Trans-Pacific Partnership

US President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with leaders from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the US Embassy in Beijing on November 10, 2014.(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with leaders from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the US Embassy in Beijing on November 10, 2014.(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) (Photo: Mandel Ngan for Getty Images)

The vast majority of New York City’s representatives in Congress have said they’re opposed to the President Barack Obama’s call for a “fast-track” vote on theTrans-Pacific Partnership trade pact—but city business leaders are asking them to change their minds.

The letter was signed by 98 members of the Partnership for New York City, according to the business group, and was sent to the entire state’s Congressional delegation. The letter comes after labor groups and local politicians who are allied with them have ratcheted up their opposition to the trade deal, and accompanying legislation that would allow for it to be “fast-tracked”—meaning there would be a simple up-or-down vote on the treaty in Congress, as opposed to allowing representatives to make amendments or offer debate.

While labor groups and many Democrats have argued the pact with 11 nations will outsource American jobs and harm the environment, Partnership for New York City President Kathryn Wylde argued that the city would actually “enjoy huge benefits” from the deal.

“New York is a global city that will enjoy huge benefits from more open and robust international trade,” Ms. Wylde said in a statement. “Our representatives should be leading the charge to support the President’s efforts to complete important trade agreements. Economics, not politics, should decide this issue.”

Among the New York City delegation, only Congressman Gregory Meeks has voiced support for the TPP and the fast-track measure—making him the target of public lobbying and chiding from his fellow Democrats in Queens and throughout the city. Mr. Meeks told the Observer this week he thought many of his constituents are actually supportive of Mr. Obama’s trade agenda because they support his economic policy. He said politics was at the heart of his colleagues feeling differently than he did.

“Labor is really, really, really, really tough on this particular issue on the politics,” Mr. Meeks said.

Those opposed to the measure have argued fast-tracking it allows for the pact to be negotiated in secret. But in the letter, the business leaders argue they trust the president to work out the details.

“We trust that the Obama Administration—working under the strict accountability provisions of TPA—will deal with legitimate concerns that have been raised about enforcement provisions, currency manipulation and protection of American jobs. We strongly believe that the members of the New York delegation should do the same,” the letter reads.

The business leaders argue the city is among the top beneficiaries of expanded global trade, with 25 percent of merchandise exported from the metro area being purchased in countries that would be part of the TPP.

“The TPP will likely result in a significant increase in our exports to markets along the Pacific Rim, creating more jobs and economic activity here at home. An estimated 5,800 jobs are created for every $1 billion of new export activity. Jobs in the export sector pay 10-20% more on average than jobs in the local economy,” the letter reads.

At a rally last week, labor activists in opposition to the pact, joined by City Council members, painted a different picture.

“Let’s be honest: TPP is bad for people. TPP is bad for the environment. TPP Is bad for democracy. Let’s be honest, it’s kind of the most dastardly and evil thing you can imagine,” Josh Fox, the filmmaker behind the anti-fracking documentary Gasland, said.

City Business Group Urges Congress to Pass Trans-Pacific Partnership