Action Alert — March 21, 2006

Sneak Attack: New "Trade" Deals Could Block Progress on Ports

Write a letter to Congress: New trade deals with Peru and Oman could undermine progress on ports.
Click here to write your letter.

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

Thank you for signing our petition on the Dubai Port Deal.

With your help, the deal has been halted and many in Congress shifted the debate away from the Arab-bashing and towards addressing the real issue in the ports scandal — that when it comes to our critical national infrastructure, there are certain things should not be globalized, privatized and sold off for profit.

But the Dubai ports controversy is just the tip of the iceberg. Right now, 80 percent of U.S. port operators are foreign companies, including a major Danish firm and a Chinese government-owned company.[1] This situation reflects an ongoing reversal of the gains made by the "port authority movement" of the 20th century, which sought to bust the big corporate trusts that had dominated the ports and put them under accountable and well-coordinated public supervision.[2] Now, not only has the operation of the ports been privatized: it's also been outsourced!

We need to fix this alarming trend. But, President Bush is racing to tie our hands — by using two new proposed trade deals to make illegal the sort of public and congressional intervention that just halted the Dubai ports deal.

You've already been a part of a successful effort to rein in President Bush on the Dubai Ports deal. To safeguard your win and our power in the future, we all need to alert Congress to this sneaky Bush "Free Trade" agreement attack!

President Bush has two new proposed trade agreements — one with the South American nation of Peru and one with the Middle Eastern country of Oman — that contain provisions that would handcuff Congress in the case of a future sell-off of sensitive U.S. facilities. The Bush Administration plans to send these two deals to Congress for approval imminently, but your voice can make a difference!

You'd think that after slamming the 2005 NAFTA expansion to Central America (CAFTA) through Congress by just one vote, needing billions in pork barrel deals and months of lobbying by half of his Cabinet, that President Bush would get the message: the U.S. public opposes his trade policy! Instead, he is back at it and many in Congress simply don't know that the 'foreign investor privileges' and 'procurement rights' in these new pacts could tie their hands next time a 'Dubai Ports' firestorm arises.

In fact, it's possible that some existing free trade and investment agreements may limit our ability to fix problems like the Dubai Ports deal when they arise. So-called 'trade' agreements often also dictate U.S. procurement and foreign-investor policies. In trade jargon, who owns and operates our ports can be considered matters of procurement policy or foreign investor market access rights.

Global Trade Watch is currently reviewing existing trade agreements to see just how much power the United States already has signed away, and we will keep you posted.

But right now, it is do-or-die on two additional all-inclusive foreign investor-procurement-service sector deregulation 'trade' deals. The Bush administration has two new proposed trade agreements with Peru and Oman going to Congress for a vote imminently. Your voice can make a difference!

Write a letter to Congress asking for a moratorium on these so-called trade deals that limit our authority to control who owns and operates what within our country.

Thank you for all that you do.

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch


[1] Simon Romero and Heather Timmons, "A Ship Already Sailed," New York Times, Feb. 24, 2006; Kathleen Pender, "Foreign involvement is nothing new," San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 23, 2006.
[2] Rexford B. Sherman, "Seaport Governance in the United States and Canada," American Association of Port Authorities.

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