Action Alert — June 29, 2006

NAFTA EXPANSION ALERT:

Oman FTA Vote Today in Senate: Call Your Senators NOW!


Despite the bruising CAFTA fight, the Bush administration just submitted new NAFTA Expansion legislation to Congress—this time aiming for the Middle East, with the OFTA: the Oman Free Trade Agreement.

The Senate Republican leadership is pulling a fast one to try to limit debate and public scrutiny of more NAFTA expansion. They announced last night that they will hold a Finance Committee mark-up and then the FULL SENATE VOTE on the same day: TODAY.

The Oman deal is word-for-word CAFTA, except where it's worse. Oman bans labor unions and has been cited by the U.S. State Department for human trafficking and forced labor. Please review the talking points below and then call both of your Senators immediately.

Take Action: Call BOTH Your Senators to Stop NAFTA Expansion
Tell them to say NO to the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA)


Capitol Switchboard # (202) 224-3121

Take these 4 steps to STOP the OMAN Free Trade Agreement (OFTA):

1) Call each of your two Senators’ DC offices.
Don’t know who your Senators are, or what their phone numbers are?  You can call the Capitol Switchboard above (works 24 hours!) and give them your state or zip code.  Or you can find out here: http://action.citizen.org/getLocal.jsp

2) Tell them to vote NO on the Oman FTA.
Ask to speak to the person who handles trade issues. Tell the office you want your Senator to vote NO on the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA) and ask for a response letter or email stating the Senator’s position.  (Use the Talking Points below)

3) Let us know what they said! Reporting back is critical to our success- tell us what happened using the form below! Send an email letting us know you call and telling us what they said at padler@citizen.org

4) Spread the word.
After you've reported back, forward this email far and wide.  We need a flood of calls right now!


Thank you for all that you do,

The Global Trade Watch Team at Public Citizen

p.s. Want to do more?  After you call, send a letter to your Congressional (House) representative here:
http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=3664. A house vote is likely in Congress the week of July 10th, and Representatives will be flying back home to you to do town hall meetings and other public events next week. Consider "Bird-Dogging" your member of congress about NAFTA expansion. Find out more here: http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=3307



Talking Points on the Oman Free Trade Agreement

  • More NAFTAs mean more lost U.S. jobs. A decade of NAFTA has resulted in the largest U.S. trade deficit ever-a deficit caused by a flood of job-killing imported goods and the export of three million U.S. manufacturing jobs. Real wages are scarcely above their 1972 levels, even though productivity has grown by over 80 percent. We can't afford any more NAFTA-like trade deals. We need to change this broken trade model!
  • Oman bans independent labor unions! Currently in Oman it is illegal to form independent trade unions. Workers can only join "representative committees" that include management representatives. The OFTA, like CAFTA and NAFTA, has strict intellectual property rights protections with tough enforcement - but no enforceable labor rights. OFTA merely requires Oman to enforce its own labor laws, and while the Sultan has promised "reform," OFTA would provide no recourse if he changes his mind. Under OFTA, there's not even any penalty for weakening this existing bad law further.
  • This Oman FTA will lead to serious human rights abuses. The majority of the private sector workforce in Oman are foreign-born "guest workers" from China, Bangladesh and other poor countries. Recent horrific reports about the results of the U.S. Free Trade Agreement with nearby Jordan show how labor rights abuses and human trafficking can greatly increase with the introduction of a free trade agreement. The State Department has noted that Oman "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking."
  • The Oman FTA gives foreign corporations more rights than U.S. citizens. OFTA contains the same type of "investor-state" provisions as NAFTA and CAFTA, which would allow an Omani company (or a company from any other country incorporated in Oman) to sue the United States government in a secret tribunal, demanding payment from our tax dollars, if the company feels that any U.S. government policy is restricting their ability to make profit.
  • OFTA could undermine U.S. national security. The OFTA goes beyond even CAFTA and NAFTA in explicitly promoting rights for foreign companies - including government-owned companies - to operate our sensitive infrastructure: electricity grids, port operations and more. OFTA allows foreign investors to take the U.S. government to secret tribunals if the profitability of any foreign investment in these sensitive sectors is threatened by an act of the U.S. Congress!


For more info about U.S.-Oman FTA, go here.

Have you sent a letter to Congress about the Oman agreement yet? If not, do so here.

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