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The TPP: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Events | Headline and Cultural Forums

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries that has been years in the making – has received both praise and criticism over the last few years leading up to the agreement in February 2016. Praised by some for reducing approximately 18,000 tariffs, creating avenues for unprecedented regional integration and inclusive trade on both the large, medium and small economic levels; criticized by others for closed-door negotiations amidst significant concerns about citizens’ freedom of expression, human rights, environmental and labor standards, agriculture and food security, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, access to affordable life-saving medicines, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws that best meet their domestic priorities.

Critics point out that nowhere in the agreement's 6,000 pages is there mention of the words “climate change”— a red-flag for environmentalists that TPP is far from being “a 21st-century trade agreement,” and is rather a business/investor rights agreement. Many say that TPP is as much about geopolitics and China - of the agreement's 29 chapters, only five deal with trade. Complex and contentious, how do we parse the big picture and what it means for everyday citizens on both sides of the Pacific?  

In March the Council hosted an event with U.S. Ambassadors to Malaysia and Brunei and other representatives from the U.S. Department of State that advocated for the TPP.  In an effort to look at global issues from 360-degrees, we've invited a panel of non-governmental critics, skeptics, activists, and opponents to talk about the key controversies. Join us for what promises to be an insightful, engaging conversation on the largest and most controversial proposed free trade agreement.


Barbara Dudley has a BA from Stanford University and a JD from the University of California at Berkeley.  She is an adjunct professor at Portland State University (PSU) where she has taught courses on the political economy of world trade, globalization of civil society, and the politics and economics of student debt.  She is senior fellow at PSU’s Center for Public Service and senior policy advisor to the Oregon Working Families Party.  Before moving to Oregon, Barbara practiced law with California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board; was President and Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild; served as Executive Director of Greenpeace USA; and as Director for Strategic Campaigns at the national AFL-CIO.  

Benjamin Gerritz is an HIV-positive advocate and service provider working as the Prevention with Positives Coordinator at the Cascade AIDS Project.  Benjamin advocates for Oregon's working families, serving his union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 503 as Assistant Board Member. He also serves as a Board Member with Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, educating people across the state about international trade policy impacts on access to medicines and publicly funded health programs.  Believing everyone should have access to equitable healthcare, Benjamin is the Vice President of Healthcare for All Oregon.  In 2014, Benjamin's local and national contributions were recognized with the Queer Hero NW and POZ 100 awards.

Michael Shannon, who leads with his family name, has been the Executive Director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (ORFTC) since 2015. Raised by union activist teachers Shannon has always looked for what needed to be changed and how he could make that change through action, organizing, and education. Shannon has worked with LGBTTIQ youth building Gay/Straight Alliances in their schools, with communities of color around HIV prevention and healthcare access, and that work led him to Portland State University's Community Based Social Work program. Upon graduating Shannon spent over a decade with SEIU organizing workers to improve their worksites, jobs, and quality of services before taking on the directorship of ORFTC.

Adriana Voss-Andrae earned two doctorates, an MD and a PhD in neuroscience, from OHSU. In parallel to her scientific work, Adriana devoted herself to public health advocacy with low-income communities, with a focus on women and children’s health and food justice. Feeling a moral obligation to do everything in her power to work toward solving the global warming crisis, Adriana co-founded 350PDX in 2013. What keeps her motivated is her view of the climate crisis as an unprecedented opportunity to reshape our communities and our world toward the arc of justice.

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