Controversial trade agreement will be topic of UB forum in run-up to presidential election

Illustration of people shaking hands. Stock image. May not be reused.

The Nov. 5 event on the Trans-Pacific Partnership features experts from around the world

Release Date: October 31, 2016 This content is archived.

Abigail Cooke.
“Within every country, there will be people who are going to be hurt by this, and people who are helped by this. ”
Abigail Cooke, assistant professor of geography
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Days before the presidential election, experts from around the world will convene at the University at Buffalo to debate one of the campaign season’s most controversial economic topics: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that would govern trade between 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States.

The TPP has been a hot-button issue throughout the 2016 presidential election, with much of the conversation focused on whether the deal would cost American jobs.

The agreement was signed earlier this year by partner countries but needs to undergo ratification — including approval by the U.S. Congress — before it can take effect.

“One of our hopes is to bring a little bit more nuanced attention to the discussion of the TPP, and to highlight the fact that the way it’s being talked about by politicians and the media is really simplified,” says Assistant Professor of Geography Abigail Cooke in UB's College of Arts and Sciences. She is an organizer of the Nov. 5 forum at UB, along with geography colleagues Trina Hamilton and Marion Werner, and UB School of Law colleague Meredith Kolsky Lewis.

“The discussion has largely been focused on the question of, ‘Is this good for the United States?’ Or, ‘Is Vietnam a winner here or not?’ It’s this high-level, country by country assessment of winners and losers in narrow economic terms, but in reality, the implications of this deal is much more complex and far reaching — within every country, there will be people who are going to be hurt by this, and people who are helped by this.”

The Nov. 5 symposium — Global Governance and the Trans-Pacific Partnership — will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 509 O’Brian Hall on UB’s North Campus.

Registrations for the symposium are no longer being accepted, as all seats have been filled, but people interested in the event can contact Trina Hamilton at to receive a summary of activities and a related teaching guide after the symposium is over.

Members of the media who would like to attend should contact Charlotte Hsu at or 716-645-4655.

A schedule and list of presenters is available on the symposium website.

The forum will feature speakers from four of the 12 TPP countries: Australia, Canada, Singapore and the United States.

Panelists will include university researchers and representatives of international organizations, and conversation will focus on four main issues: economic development; labor and human rights, including health; the environment; and future directions for the TPP.

As the organizers write on the symposium website, “Our goal is to share the lessons of past research in order to evaluate the agreement based on its implications for marginalized populations, as well as ecosystems and ecological functions, in signatory countries and beyond.”

The Global Governance and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Symposium 2016 is organized through the Canada-U.S. Trade Center in the UB Department of Geography and sponsored by the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy at UB, the Department of Geography and the Asian Studies Program in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and the Nila T. Gnamm Junior Faculty Research Fund at UB.

Media Contact Information

Charlotte Hsu is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email or visit our list of current university media contacts.