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New Trade Deal Called NAFTA On Steroids

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the biggest thing to hit international trade since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Negotiations are ongoing between 12 Pacific Rim countries, including the United States, Canada, Vietnam and Chile. Advocates say the agreement is necessary to ensure smooth trade between nations. Opponents call it a corporate power grab.

North Carolina AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan is one of those opponents. She said the Trans-Pacific Partnership could be detrimental to North Carolina.

"Since NAFTA we've lost one in four U.S. manufacturing jobs," she said.

She added that we've lost more than 300,000 jobs in North Carolina during that time.

However, Corinne Krupp, an associate professor in Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, said trade agreements like these are necessary in a global economy.

"I do recognize that a lot of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the United States," She later added, "This is a better deal for us, because we need more transparency and disclosure."

She argues this agreement is more comprehensive than those in the past.  

"Most free trade deals are about reducing tariffs," Krupp said. "But this trade agreement is going a lot further because tariffs are already pretty low."

Instead, this agreement focuses on getting rid of red tape and bureaucracy to make trade between countries easier, Krupp said.. This includes equalizing intellectual property rights and allowing foreign countries to be more competitive in countries that prefer local firms.

Krupp says that these regional agreements make sense in a complicated world. 

"When you have the entire membership of the WTO... trying to reach agreement on all of these issues, you just don't get anywhere," Krupp said.

But the secrecy under which these negotiations has taken place concerns many critics.

"I think the reason this is being kept secret is because they know the American people are going to be outraged," McMillan said.

Audio for this segment will be up by 3 p.m. 


Alex Granados joined The State of Things in July 2010. He got his start in radio as an intern for the show in 2005 and loved it so much that after trying his hand as a government reporter, reader liaison, features, copy and editorial page editor at a small newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, he returned to WUNC. Born in Baltimore but raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, Alex moved to Raleigh in time to do third grade twice and adjust to public school after having spent years in the sheltered confines of a Christian elementary education. Alex received a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has a minor in philosophy, which basically means that he used to think he was really smart but realized he wasn’t in time to switch majors. Fishing, reading science fiction, watching crazy movies, writing bad short stories, and shooting pool are some of his favorite things to do. Alex still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he is holding out for astronaut.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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