Business and environmentalists agreeing on something
October 18, 2007
Everyone seems to be opposed to the Bush's Peru NAFTA expansion. Well, everyone except for Walmart, Citigroup and Chevron (PDF) that is...
Check out this latest letter from major environmental groups (PDF) opposing the NAFTA-expansions for the incentives they give for oil corporations to drill in the Amazon Rain Forest. And a UNITE-HERE letter that blasts the deal and calls out the labor provisions that everyone from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Human Rights Watch says are unenforceable. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) gave a talk Monday on the House floor noting the Chamber support and calling the Peru deal "the same old model with a little fancy title" (see full statement after the jump).
And the United States Business and Industry Council, a 1,500 member organization of domestic and mostly family-owned manufacturing companies, put out a statement rejecting the Peru NAFTA expansion (sorry, not linkable):
The only U.S. beneficiaries, observed [Council President] Kearns, are the multinational companies that value these trade deals as opportunities to outsource more American factories and jobs.
And even members of Congress who negotiated with Bush to facilitate the passage of these NAFTA-style trade deals in the first place might be starting to feel guilty, as they talk about expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance just in the nick of time for a Peru deal that will create more displaced workers. Quoted in Congressional Quarterly (sorry, not linkable), Lori Wallach says of these efforts:
Up on the Hill, you hear a lot of people laughing about how revealing it is that you have to reauthorize the burial insurance right before passing more job-killing trade agreements.
Where do you stand?
UPDATE 3pm: Just Foreign Policy's Bob Naiman has a great summary of the issues involved over at Daily Kos.
[Congressional Record: October 15, 2007 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
PERU FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Michaud) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. MICHAUD. Mr. Speaker, in the coming days Congress will consider the Peru Free Trade Agreement. I rise tonight to ask why are we in such a rush to approve a flawed and misguided trade policy.
The Peru Free Trade Agreement doesn't enjoy the support of any of the constituencies which it's supposed to benefit. No labor unions vocally are out supporting this agreement. Why would they? The labor standards are unenforceable. It doesn't protect ``buy America.'' It promotes offshoring of our industries.
The Peru Free Trade Agreement is just like the NAFTA-CAFTA framework. NAFTA has cost Maine over 23 percent of our manufacturing base. The new labor environmental language will do nothing to improve the situation. The Bush administration claims that the agreement will improve labor standards in Peru and, in the next breath, Tom Donahue, president of the United States Chamber of Commerce states that he is ``encouraged by assurances that the labor provisions cannot be read to require compliance with the ILO conventions.''
So why are we rushing to approve such a toothless measure? Why is Congress moving so fast to approve a trade policy which has not been subject to a full hearing since the deal was announced? The last hearing on the Peru Free Trade Agreement in the Ways and Means Committee was held in 2006. There are no environmental groups that are rallying support for the unenforceable environmental protections. That
includes the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth.
So why are we not taking the time to consider the impact the Peru FTA will have on our environment, our intellectual property or privatization of Social Security? Even the labor leaders of major Peruvian labor organizations oppose this agreement. They urge Congress to vote ``no,'' claiming that it will weaken labor standards, encourage illegal immigration to the United States, and increase the rates of drug trafficking and violence.
So who supports this agreement? Big Business. It's the large multinational companies who seek to profit off the backs of working men and women in our country.
Remember back on May 10 when we heard about the new trade model? Well, if it's so new and great, then why aren't we hearing from all sides on the trade debate asking us to support it? There is a reason:
there is not much new about it. It's the same old model with a little fancy title.
I ask my colleagues to take a step back and consider this agreement carefully, demand the enforcement of the labor standards that conform with the ILO Conventions and environmental protection that might
actually protect the environment. I ask my colleagues to consider the impact of this agreement and to
question why we are moving so quickly to box ourselves into a corner. And I'm asking Members to listen to their constituents.
All across this country, the American citizens are opposed to these bad, flawed trade deals. This is more of the same. We must have a new trade model. We have to start thinking globally of how we're going to
deal with the globalization in this world today. So I encourage my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the Peru trade deal.