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TPP to Have Significant Impact on Regulated Jobs

Globe with TPP text written on top and various country flags around the globe.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement reached by Canada, the United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei brings a lot of changes to a variety of social and work areas within these countries, including copyright law, living standards, economic growth, productivity, innovation, competitiveness and employment. One of the biggest areas of recent concern to many employment experts is a fine print part of the agreement that allows more foreign workers access to positions in skilled trades. These employment areas include heavily regulated and protected trades like electrical, construction and mechanical trades.

Job Market Instability?
The TPP countries claim that they want to create a future in which skilled foreign workers face fewer barriers to gainful employment upon entering one of the partner countries, including United States and Canadian workers who want access to positions in other TPP nations. Yet, critics believe that some of the new rules undermine existing employment regulations too much. They also believe that the changes will take jobs away from local workers and force down wages as the market becomes flooded with cheaper skilled workers:

  • Local workers could be pushed out of the job market because of a revolving door of temporary foreign workers willing to work at lower-than-standard wages.
  • Foreign businesses within a country could choose to hire only foreign workers.
  • Employers could give first access to new jobs to foreign workers in skilled trades instead of local workers. This is big problem in a country like Canada, for example, where the change bypasses employment regulations that require employers to attempt to hire local candidates first.

The above could lead to more poverty among local workers, especially the lower and middle classes, as they suffer reduced yearly earnings while the standard of living increases. Additionally, local workers in countries where most people only speak one language don’t have the language skills needed to pursue work in many foreign countries, which means that workers from certain countries benefit more from the TPP than others.

Additional Issues
Local governments in certain countries like Canada have pre-existing regulations concerning skilled trades that supersede decisions made at the federal level. As a result, foreign workers could gain access to a country faster under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, but they aren’t guaranteed a job. They could also face a lot of red tape trying to get work.