portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts global

corporate dominance | health | human & civil rights

Stop Harmful Trade Deals with Chile and Singapore!

The week of July 21, the House and Senate will vote on legislation to implement two harmful trade deals -- one with Chile, the other with Singapore. The vote could be as early as Tuesday, July 22nd. Representatives Blumenauer and Wu favor these agreements, especially the agreement with Chile. Rep. Blumenauer said that the Chilean agreement would be good for the timber industry.
Here is an important action you can do from your home, work, or cell phone. It would be great if you would call your representatives and senators to give them your opinion on upcoming trade deals.

The week of July 21, the House and Senate will vote on legislation to implement two harmful trade deals -- one with Chile, the other with Singapore.
In general, it seems like the Democrats know that these aren't great agreements but feel like they're not that important, so why not try to gain favor with the business community. It seems like our representatives are not getting heat from constituents on these bills. The vote could be as early as Tuesday, July 22nd. Representatives Blumenauer and Wu favor these agreements, especially the agreement with Chile. Rep. Blumenauer said that the Chilean agreement would be good for the timber industry.

While it's likely that the Chile and Singapore agreements will pass, it's imperative that we keep as many members as we can from voting yes. We must send the message that these agreements are bad policy and not a model for CAFTA or the FTAA

What's wrong with these agreements?

Neither agreement has enforceable protections for workers or the environment. Both agreements would include provisions like those in NAFTA that allow foreign corporations to sue taxpayers if environmental or health laws interfere with profits. Both agreements restrict access to generic medicines. What's worse, the Bush administration touts these agreements as models for major new trade deals, including the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

TAKE ACTION

Please call your Representatives today and urge them to oppose the Chile and Singapore trade deals! You can call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to give your views. The local number for Rep. Earl Blumenauer is 503-231-2300. The local number for Rep. David Wu is 503-326-2901.

SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS

Hello, my name is ___________. I am calling to urge
that Rep. ______________ oppose the trade deals with Chile and Singapore.

Both Agreements are a giant step backward in terms of treatment of labor and environment.

Both agreements contain risky "investor provisions" that would allow foreign corporations to sue US taxpayers for lost profits.
The agreements restrict the ability of Chile and Singapore to meet public health crises by providing access to cheaper medicines.

The Chile and Singapore trade deals are being cited as a model for larger regional trade agreements including the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
I would support trade deals that are safe, clean and fair. The Chile and Singapore trade deals do not meet that standard. I urge the Congressperson to vote no on these agreements and to oppose any use of them as a model for future agreements.

Expanded Talking Points:

*A dangerous model

Given all of the problematic labor, environmental, immigration and sustainability issues (further outlined below) these agreements should NOT BE SUPPORTED NOW, NOR USED AS A MODEL for future agreements like CAFTA and the FTAA.

*Agreements do not protect core labor rights or environmental provisions.

Labor and Environmental provisions aren't enforceable on the same terms as commercial provisions --only one labor and environmental provision has any enforcement: that countries enforce their own labor and environmental laws. Both countries are still able to set these laws at levels below internationally recognized standards or to lower them in order to attract investment without facing any consequences. Also, the penalty for a country's failure to enforce its own laws is a fine capped at an amount insufficient to be a deterrent.

*Contains labor rules which are weaker than existing US-Chile, US-Singapore trade rules
These trade deals do not require Chile or Singapore to adopt or enforce core International Labor Organization standards. -- Under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) the U.S. is able to decide whether or not a country's labor laws actually comply with international standards in determining market access. These proposed trade agreements rely only on Chile and Singapore to enforce existing labor laws regardless of their adequacy.

*Establishes Transshipment loophole

The Singapore FTA contains provisions that allow products made outside of Singapore to be marked "Made in Singapore" and sent to the United States duty-free. This would, therefore, allow countries that do not have FTAs with the United States to ship products to the U.S. through Singapore without having to comply with any of the obligations in the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, including the meager labor and environmental provisions. This is a serious problem particularly given the fact that Singapore is the world's second busiest transshipment hub.

Some changes have been recommended to the US Trade Representative to address this problem, though so far these changes have not been made.

*Would reduce access to essential medicines
Intellectual property rules in both agreements reduce the flexibility available under WTO rules for governments to make generic medicines available in order to address public health crises.

*Opens public interest laws up to challenge by foreign corporations

Investment rules in the Singapore and Chile FTAs include the right for foreign corporations to sue governments when they believe that a domestic regulation unfairly infringes on their profits. Similar rules under NAFTA have led to challenges in all three NAFTA countries against health, safety, environmental, and zoning and development laws.

* Threatens sustainable development

These agreements restrict the use of capitol controls in both countries, which are an essential tool for developing countries in dealing with speculative capitol. Many developing countries have used these tools effectively in the past, and even the IMF has conceded that they can be beneficial to stable development.

*Establishes a new immigration policy which doesn't protect workers' rights

Each agreement establishes new immigration policy for temporary entry of professional workers. These provisions are different than our global immigration policy (of H1-B visas) and don't adequately protect workers in either country from exploitation.

*Threatens natural resources

Natural resources are at the heart of Chile's export trade, comprising its four largest export sectors to the US, including mined products, forestry products, and fish. The primary temperate forests of Chile represent 1/3 of the remaining primary temperate forests in the world. The Chile agreement does not include sufficient protections for natural resource preservation.

Despite the fact that Singapore is a major transshipment point for both plant and animal endangered species, the Singapore FTA doesn't protect against illegal transshipment of plant and animal life.

*Ignores Fast Track negotiating objectives

Many of these provisions go against the negotiating objectives delineated by Congress under Fast Track including the labor and environmental provisions, and provisions on investment, and those on access to medicine.

For more information:


Contact Citizens Trade Campaign at 202-778-3321 or  sruether@citizenstrade.org www.citizenstrade.org

Gretchen Gordon
Director
Citizens Trade Campaign
PO Box 77077
Washington, DC 20013
(202) 778-3313
fx (202) 293-5308
 gretchenliese@citizenstrade.org
www.citizenstrade.org

-----------------------------
PCASC/CBLOC
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee
616 E. Burnside, Portland, Oregon 97214
503.236.7916, < info@pcasc.net>

CBLOC, the Cross Border Labor Organizing Coalition,
meets the first and third Wednesday of each month
at 7:00 in our office at 616 E. Burnside.