Trade News — June/July 2006

 

Breaking News: Wednesday Senate Vote on Oman Delayed; Vote is Likely TODAY, June 29 - Call Now!

Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and Wal-Mart Pushing "Bruised" Congress to Vote on Oman Trade Deal

Dear Supporter,

In a moment of candor, House Majority Leader John Boehner recently told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that winning trade votes has become increasingly "difficult" and that many members feel "bruised" after the intense battle last year over the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Boehner admitted that many Representatives fear having another trade vote on their records before November.[1]

Despite fears in Congress, the Bush administration is still recklessly pressing for a vote on the Oman Free Trade Agreement in July. Take Action!

Congratulations - that members of Congress with bad trade vote records are feeling vulnerable is a testament to all you've done! After all, the new U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA) was supposed to sail through Congress with huge margins early this year, and the Peru agreement was aimed for passage by Memorial Day. Instead, thanks to pressure from grassroots activists like you, the administration's push to pass free trade agreements with Oman, Peru and Colombia is putting them increasingly at odds with frightened House Republicans.

But the fight is not over.

Angered by Boehner's honesty, and afraid of losing momentum for NAFTA expansion, the multinational corporations close to the Bush administration have gone on a major lobbying offensive. Last week, Halliburton and Wal-Mart joined the National Foreign Trade Council, Occidental Petroleum, Raytheon, Exxon-Mobil, and dozens of other profiteering corporations on a "U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Coalition" letter to Congress urging swift passage of the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement.[2]

If you haven't contacted your representative about the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, can you send an email today?

As with CAFTA last year, the Republican leadership will be trying to squeeze the vote in on Oman before the long August congressional recess - after which election season begins in earnest. This means that if there is a vote, it will likely come just after the weeklong July 4th congressional recess - probably the week of July 10th.

If you've already sent Congress an email, but haven't heard back, it's important that you call your representative, ask for their position on OFTA, and let us know what they say!

Want to do more to stop NAFTA expansion? Ask for a meeting with your congressperson over the July 4th recess, or confront them with a question at a public event. Want help planning a meeting or public activity on the Oman FTA? Email David Edeli at dedeli@citizen.org.

The U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement certainly deserves to be defeated on its own merits.[3] But it's also critical to see the U.S.-Oman deal as part of the larger plan by the administration and its corporate allies to build steady momentum towards the moment a year from now when the "Fast Track" rules - which set the parameters under which individual trade agreements are negotiated - are set to expire.

This big-picture strategy is why the corporate coalition is pushing so hard to pass OFTA through Congress before August. They sense the weakness of their position after the CAFTA fiasco, and are worried that their greedy NAFTA-clone trade agenda could get junked.

We need to go all out right now to ensure that members of Congress continue to feel "bruised" until there is a new trade policy in place. Please contact your representative today!

Thank you for all that you do,

Your friends at Global Trade Watch


[1] Doug Palmer, "House could delay major trade votes," Reuters, June 13, 2006.
[2] See a list of the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Coalition Members. (PDF)
[3] Read our talking points on the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement. (PDF)

Activist Spotlight

David Kane works for the Catholic advocacy organization Maryknoll Office on Global Concerns. He recently organized an "Interfaith Statement of Concern About 'Free Trade' and Human Trafficking." Read his story here and take action to stop the Oman Free Trade Agreement.

 

What they are saying about
the Oman deal

  • Broad Coalition Rejects OFTA: Over 400 national, state, and local labor, environmental, faith, and farm groups sent a letter today to Congress urging rejection of OFTA. Read the letter and press release online. (PDF links)

  • CNN Exposé Links OFTA to Dubai Port Scandal: OFTA would give foreign port operators an absolute right to acquire, operate, and run U.S. ports - raising red flags in Congress about national security. Read the transcript here. (PDF)

More Headlines from GTW

  • World Trade Organization talks barely on life support: After Public Citizen released a report exposing false U.S. promises to the poorest WTO members, the so-called "Doha Development Round" is in critical condition. A recent survey of trade negotiators from 100 different countries found 71 percent of them saying it was unlikely the Doha round could be completed by the end of 2006.
  • Peru: After Elections, Winner Flip-Flops on FTA: After campaigning as a critic of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement, Alan Garcia was able to defeat fellow anti-FTA candidate Ollanta Humala to become Peru's new president. Once the election was decided, though, Garcia flip-flopped, and urged the Peruvian Congress to approve the agreement, which it did on June 28 at 2am as protestors stormed the chamber. A nation-wide strike against the deal is planned for July 4th. Find out the latest from Peruvian groups opposing the agreement. (in Spanish)
  • Indigenous Leaders Lobby Against Free Trade: After massive protests against the Andean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador earlier this year, indigenous people from the three countries recently visited Washington, DC to urge the U.S. Congress to reject the Peru and Colombia FTAs. Their visit was covered by Indian Country Today newspaper. Read "Of Trade and Terror in the Americas."

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