Ask Your Governor to Say No to WTO GATS Expansion!
At the December 2005 World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, federal trade negotiators agreed to push for an expansion of WTO powers, which would put an alarming array of existing and future U.S. state and local laws at risk of challenge in closed-door WTO tribunals. Under this proposal, foreign countries would be empowered to use the WTO dispute resolution system to challenge a range of commonplace U.S. state and local policies that multinational service sector firms argue are WTO-illegal "barriers" to their plans for global expansion.
The WTO agreement in question - the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) - went into effect in 1995 as one of the original 17 Uruguay Round agreements enforced by the WTO. At issue in these new WTO expansion talks is both what service sectors will be covered by GATS rules and what the rules will require. Health care, land use, higher education, energy, and more are at stake.
Governor Kulongoski of Oregon recently acted to safeguard his state's sovereignty by demanding that Oregon be excluded from the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) WTO expansion plan. Your Governor can take a similar action to defend the essential services on which your community relies. Ask your Governor to say no to WTO GATS expansion!