Dueling events Tuesday will promote, decry proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership

A pair of Tuesday Tacoma-area events will present opposite views on the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

Opponents of the multi-nation Pacific Rim trade partnership will rally at Tacoma’s Fireman’s Park at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday calling for Congress to take a slower and closer look at the far-reaching proposed trade agreement.

Meanwhile that same day, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will tour Tacoma’s General Plastics while promoting new trade including the controversial proposed partnership. That partnership, the Obama administration claims, will open vast new markets for American products, remove tariff walls that make American goods uncompetitive in Asian markets and create new jobs both here and abroad.

The opponents fear that the partnership will be another mechanism that facilitates American companies moving jobs to cheaper foreign manufacturing sites and lessen the control that the American government has over pollution and work safety standards abroad. They worry too that the pact will allow foreign countries to manipulate their currencies to make their products cheaper to buy than American goods.

Tuesday’s Tacoma demonstration and news conference is part of a two-state, two-day effort to make local voters aware of the potential perils of the partnership, its organizers say. The rolling protest will begin Tuesday with a morning event in Mount Vernon at U.S. Rep. Susan DelBene’s district office, move to Tacoma by bus for the afternoon rally and then end the day in Olympia Tuesday with a briefing for legislators.

On Wednesday, the portable protest will begin in Portland, move to Beaverton and on to Salem in Oregon before returning for a concluding event in Portland.

Pritzker will be joined by Tacoma U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland for the Tuesday tour at General Plastics. The company sells its products in more than two dozen countries.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been negotiated among 12 countries surrounding the Pacific largely in secret, a fact that disturbs detractors who say more clarity and openness would make judging the agreement’s provisions easier.