tide turning on free trade consensus
Oregon Fair Trade Coalition, Ashland Member , 28.07.2006 11:52
tide turning on free trade consensus - Rep. Blumenauer statement on Oman FTA
HON. EARL BLUMENAUER
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Madam Speaker, honest and fair trade will help the U.S. and other countries grow more prosperous and stable. Trade barriers, quotas, and restrictions hurt all but a select few by raising prices for consumers, limiting economic growth, and restricting the ability of developing countries to improve their economies. However, I do not support free trade at any cost. There must be strong protections to ensure that workers benefit from trade, that the environment is protected, and that we provide the necessary help to those who lose out from increased trade.
Before the 2002 vote on "fast-track" trade promotion authority, I told President Bush in a meeting that he could gain broad bi-partisan support for a trade policy that expanded markets for U.S. products and helped developing countries grow themselves out of poverty if he made simple, small changes to the trade agreement model to take into account concerns over labor, the environment, and farmers in developing countries.
However, the Oman Free Trade Agreement continues President Bush's tradition of pushing forward harsh and divisive agreements, designed to pass by the smallest of margins. For example, the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the trade agreement exclude items made with forced labor, slave labor, or trafficked persons. Despite this, the President refused to make these simple changes that Congress demanded.
Questions of how the United States engages in an increasingly global economy are too critical to our future to use as partisan and political wedges. We must develop a forward-thinking and honest trade policy that can be broadly supported by Americans of all political stripes and that reflects the concerns that I hear from Oregonians. Because the Oman Free Trade Agreement doesn't meet that test, I must oppose it.