"The union sees a growing creep by academics and policy experts to encourage the incoming administration to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership," United Steelworkers legislative director Roy Houseman said in prepared remarks for a Senate subcommittee hearing about competition with China.
"Often 'experts' try to highlight the agreement as containing China but our union has taken a close look at this effort to contain China and the TPP was an abject failure," Houseman continued. "Setting aside the fact that six of the countries in the TPP already have trade agreements with China, the rules of origin that the TPP contained were a barn door-sized access for China’s manufactured goods."
The Obama administration described the TPP as a "cornerstone" of its economic policy. The U.S. withdrew from the TPP after President Trump took office in 2017, earning praise from groups like the Teamsters.
Houseman focused on effects on the auto industry in his prepared remarks.
"The Ways and Means Committee minority report on the TPP in 2014 highlighted that depending on the rules, 35% of a vehicle would had to originate in the TPP zone, meaning up to 65% of a vehicle’s components could come from outside the party countries like China. When compared to the [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement] rules which are set for 75%, American manufacturing workers stand a fighting chance at competing for market share in auto-parts," Houseman said.
United Steelworkers has 1.2 million members and retirees and describes itself as North America’s largest industrial union. Houseman's remarks come as many experts fear Biden will not take an aggressive enough approach in competition with China.