The Next Shoe to Drop: New Balance Accuses Obama Of Bribing It To Join TPP Trade Deal

Original source: Zero Hedge

Another Obama corporatocracy conspiracy theory becomes fact as The Boston Globe reportsshoemaker ‘New Balance’ is renewing its opposition to the far-reaching Pacific Rim trade deal, saying the Obama administration reneged on a promise to give the sneaker maker a fair shot at military business if it stopped bad-mouthing the agreement. “We swallowed the poison pill that is TPP so we could have a chance to bid on these contracts,” rages a New Balance spokesman, “[but] the chances of the Department of Defense buying shoes that are made in the USA are slim to none while Obama is president.”

Since the so-called free-trade-agreement known as Trans-Pacific-Partnership was signed last October, details of the actual ‘agreement’ have been few and far between and critics around the world have also lambasted the deal for being negotiated in secret and being biased towards corporations, criticisms that are likely to be amplified when the national legislatures seek to ratify the TPP in the months to come. This will likely now be even more pronounced as companies com forward to highlight the bribery and manipulation involved… As The Boston Globe details,

After several years of resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact aimed at making it easier to conduct trade among the United States and 11 other countries, the Boston company had gone quiet last year. New Balance officials say one big reason is that they were told the Department of Defense would give them serious consideration for a contract to outfit recruits with athletic shoes.

 

But no order has been placed, and New Balance officials say the Pentagon is intentionally delaying any purchase.

 

New Balance is reviving its fight against the trade deal, which would, in part, gradually phase out tariffs on shoes made in Vietnam. A loss of those tariffs, the company says, would make imports cheaper and jeopardize its factory jobs in New England.

 

“We swallowed the poison pill that is TPP so we could have a chance to bid on these contracts,” said Matt LeBretton, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs.

 

“We were assured this would be a top-down approach at the Department of Defense if we agreed to either support or remain neutral on TPP. [But] the chances of the Department of Defense buying shoes that are made in the USA are slim to none while Obama is president.”

The details of the ‘deal’ highlight the kind of back-door dealings and cozy non-free-market, non-free-trade quid pro quo-ism that is always brushed off as conspiracist claptrap but is in fact absolutely true…

The company employs about 1,400 people at its five New England factories — one in Brighton, one in Lawrence, and three in Maine.

 

 

Company officials say they are looking to add workers to those plants, and they see a major military contract, with potentially as many as 200,000 shoe orders a year, as a way to help reach that goal.

 

Nearly every piece of gear that military recruits wear is made in the United States, per a 1940s-era law known as the Berry Amendment. But for many years, athletic shoes were exempt, largely because of a lack of sufficient domestic options.

 

Hoping to change that, New Balance and other companies worked toward making an all-American shoe. New Balance even purchased an expensive machine to make midsoles, a key component that was nearly always made overseas.

 

In 2014, the Pentagon relented. With competition among US manufacturers, officials said they were ready to consider domestically made shoes.

 

LeBretton said a representative for the Obama administration then asked New Balance to accept a compromise version of the trade deal, partly in exchange for a pledge of help getting the Department the Defense to expedite the purchase of US-made shoes.

 

But that help never arrived, LeBretton said. The agency still hasn’t ordered any US-made sneakers.

Executives at New Balance recognize that they risk alienating a big potential customer by challenging the US government over the trade agreement. But LeBretton said it’s worth the gamble.

“We make a lot fewer shoes in the US than we do overseas, but the point is we’re trying to make more here, not less,” LeBretton said. “When agreements like this go into place, what that says to us is that our president and our trade negotiators, they don’t want us to make more products here.”

As we concluded previously, and merely confirmed by New Balance’s brave and outspoken stance against the Obama administration’s media gag, packaged as a gift to the American people that will renew industry and make us more competitive, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a Trojan horse. It’s a coup by multinational corporations who want global subservience to their agenda. Buyer beware. Citizens beware.

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