SEATTLE -- The “Rock Against the TPP” tour arrived in Seattle Friday with a lineup of musicians eager to spread awareness about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and what they say are its worrying impacts on U.S. consumers.
“It’s a corporate power grab, it's not a trade deal,” said Evan Greer, lead organizer for the tour.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a proposed trade agreement which would slash thousands of taxes on products the U.S. manufactures and exports to the other nations.
Many dairy farmers, fruit growers, seafood companies, and industrial manufacturers in Washington say the TPP will help them expand and potentially hire more people.
"I believe that if this went into effect, our sales in Asian markets would double or even triple. You know it's a ripple effect, it's more vineyard planting, more grape production, more wine production," said Marty Clubb, owner of owns L'Ecole 41 Winery in Walla Walla.
TPP opponents say the trade proposal would lower the standards on the goods, such as food, imported to the U.S. They are also concerned about environmental impacts as companies seek higher profits through the deal. Above all, they say Americans should worry about how it all came together.
“It was negotiated by corporate lobbyists and lawyers, without input from the public, without input from experts or human rights advocates, it's really a back room deal that benefits multinational corporations at the expense of people like us,” said Greer.
The TPP is currently before Congress. Lawmakers are expected to vote on it later this year, most likely after the November election.
“Rock Against the TPP” is organized by a coalition of non-profits, including environmental, labor, and human rights groups.
Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli was scheduled to perform during the concert, Friday, at Showbox SoDo in Seattle from 6 pm - 11:30 pm Friday.
The Washington Council on International Trade issued a statement about the event, calling it a “blow to Washington jobs and businesses.”
“This concert is an example of how ungrounded rhetoric against the TPP can overshadow its overwhelming benefits,” said WCIT President, Eric Schinfeld. “The truth is the TPP makes pioneering leaps toward high-standard trade, ironically addressing many of the TPP protesters’ concerns. For instance, the TPP will raise labor and environmental standards in participating countries and will protect the U.S. right to regulate in the public interest for the environment, health, and safety.”
“Rock Against the TPP” plans to head to Portland on Saturday and San Francisco at a later date. The event attracted thousands of people earlier this year during concerts in Denver and San Diego.