The TRADE Act of 2008A Fair Way Forward on Trade The Oregon Fair Trade Campaign OR-FTC
What We’ll Cover… • Overview of existing trade policies • Opportunities for change • The TRADE Act of 2008 • How to get involved
Tariffs/quotas Public procurement Public services Education Water/sewage Waste/recycling Postal services Transportation Libraries/museums Parks Gambling Agriculture & food safety Intellectual property Access to medicine Investor rights Zoning Environmental regulation Product labeling Safety inspections More What Do Trade Pacts Govern?
Free Trade’s Promise • NAFTA, the WTO and similar trade deals were supposed to benefit working people in both the U.S. and developing countries • It would open developing countries to foreign investment, providing new jobs for the poor • By raise living standards abroad, it would also create new markets for U.S. exports
“Global Race to the Bottom” • The elimination of tariffs makes it easier for large corporations to move jobs around the globe to wherever workers are the most exploited and regulations the weakest
The Offshoring of U.S. Jobs • 1 in 6 U.S. manufacturing jobs have already been shipped abroad • 68,000 jobs lost in Oregon across all sectors • As many as 42 million additional jobs vulnerable
Increased Poverty Abroad • Real wages for most Mexicans have dropped under NAFTA • By 2000, the poverty rate increased to over half the population. • The extreme poverty rate increased to nearly a third of the population.
Free Trade Deals Have Also… • Been used to attack environmental, public health and consumer protections • Reduced access to generic medications • Destroyed rainforests • Weakened food safety • Privatized public services
Opportunity for Change • Many newer Members of Congress are serious about change • Politicians have promised to renegotiate NAFTA and other trade deals • Fast Track has expired • Progressives in developing countries are proving that “free trade” is not inevitable
From Today through 2009… • Corporate lobbyists are pushing our elected officials to make minor adjustments to the NAFTA trade model, and continue with “business as usual”
How We Fight Back • Get elected officials and candidates “on the record” about changes that are necessary • Build broad support for comprehensive change before the other side can divide and conquer • Keep the trade debate front-and-center
The TRADE Act of 2008 • The Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act (HR. 6180 and S.3083) • Sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Mike Michaud • Over 50 original cosponsors, including Rep. Peter DeFazio
United Steelworkers Teamsters Boilermakers Machinists Friends of the Earth United Methodists UNITE HERE Painters National Family Farm Coalition Communication Workers of America Public Citizen Americans for Democratic Action Many others Who Supports This?
TRADE Act Overview • Establishes process for reviewing and renegotiating existing trade agreements • Sets mandatory criteria for what must be and cannot be in any future trade agreement • Reasserts Congressional authority and public oversight in developing trade policy
Section 3: Review • Requires the Comptroller General to issue a report on the effect of each trade agreement every two years • Report includes: • Balance of trade, jobs created/lost, consumer prices, immigration, poverty, privatization, drug prices, human rights, disputes and more • Much info broken down by sector and state • Requires public comment period, with hearings
Mandatory criteria on what must be and cannot be in future trade agreements, regarding: Labor Standards The Environment Food Safety Product Safety Services Investment Procurement Intellectual Property Agriculture Anti-Dumping Dispute Resolution National Security States’ Rights More Section 4: Inclusion of Certain Provisions
Section 4.1: Labor Standards • Each country must adopt and enforce the core ILO Conventions • These cover collective bargaining; forced labor; child labor; and discrimination • Penalties for labor violations at least as strong as those for commercial violations; expedited process • Sets up labor commission that, in addition to the USTR, has standing to initiate enforcement actions
Without the TRADE Act Transnational corporations shift jobs to China to take advantage of cheap labor Chinese products are imported to the U.S. tariff-free, costing American workers their jobs This reduces local tax bases, increases demand for public services and puts a downward pressure on wages for all With the TRADE Act Workers in the U.S. can complain that Chinese workers’ rights are being violated The USTR or the new labor commission can initiate an enforcement action Tariffs can be re-imposed if China is found to be in violation TRADE Act in Action
Section 4.4: Services • Trade agreements cannot be used to require privatization or deregulation • Allows countries to ban any service, if the ban also applies to domestic service providers • Requires privacy laws and regulations that apply to U.S. providers to carry over to transnational providers
Without the TRADE Act The WTO prevents the U.S. from blocking foreign service providers U.S. internet gambling rules are ruled WTO-illegal U.S. taxpayers pay Antigua millions of dollars to keep our laws With the TRADE Act Bans on services are allowed if they’re applied equally to companies from different nations The U.S. can keep its gambling rules without paying other countries any fines TRADE Act in Action
Section 4.8: Agriculture • Protect the right of countries to prevent the dumping of agricultural commodities • Protect the right of countries to establish policies that require farmers to receive fair remuneration
Without the TRADE Act Subsidized U.S. grains dumped onto Mexico Millions of Mexicans put out of work Massive migration to cities, border towns and the United States With the TRADE Act U.S. farmers can still receive subsidies Mexico can protect its farmers from imports People can choose when and where they migrate TRADE Act in Action
Section 5: Renegotiation • The President is required to submit a plan to Congress for bringing existing trade agreements into compliance with Section 4 • No pending trade agreement may be submitted to Congress or new trade agreement initiated before this happens
Section 6: Review by Congress • Sets up a cross-jurisdictional joint committee to receive the Comptroller General’s report and President’s renegotiation plans • This committee has 60 days in which to review and amend the renegotiation plans, after which they are set into motion
Section 7: Trade Goals • This is a nonbinding section that outlines basic goals for trade agreements, such as: • Improving wage levels • Improving the environment • Preserving family farms • Maintaining product safety • Enabling public participation
Section 8: Replacing Fast Track • This nonbinding section suggests a process by which future trade deals should be considered by Congress, including: • Developing “readiness criteria” for determining which countries we enter into negotiations with • Ensuring the informed consent of states before they are bound to various trade obligations • Requiring a vote by Congress before the President can sign a trade agreement
What can we do? • Build awareness • Educate your members • Write letters to the editor • Publish newsletter articles • Contact Congress • Write letters and make calls • Organize official union delegation visits • Make it an election issue • Put questions on candidate screening • Talk to candidates about it
We’re at a crossroads • What happens in the coming months and years could impact global trade policy for decades.
For more information: Arthur StamoulisOregon Fair Trade Campaign www.oregonfairtrade.org (503) firstname.lastname@example.org Ask to sign up for our e-newsletter and how your organization can join our statewide campaign.