Environmentalists, union members protest Pacific trade pact being negotiated at Maui resort

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Opponents of a Pacific Rim trade deal being negotiated at a resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui are demonstrating against the proposed pact.

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A couple of dozen protesters gathered Wednesday at Kaanapali (Kah-AH-nah-pah-lee) Beach fronting the Westin Maui hotel in Lahaina. They include members of locally based labor unions and environmental groups.

A statement from protest organizers says the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would benefit a few major corporations while sacrificing protections for public health, the environment, local jobs and indigenous rights.

Ministers from 12 countries negotiating the deal are meeting at the resort this week. The agreement would lower tariffs and other trade barriers while setting labor and environmental standards for its participants.

Nations negotiating the deal include the United States, Australia, Japan and Mexico.

The Obama administration says the pact will boost U.S. economic growth and help keep high-quality jobs in the country by increasing exports.