Action Alert — July 6, 2006


Next Steps to Defeat the Oman FTA: Take Action and Spread the Word!
Final House Vote Could Be Next Week!

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

Thank you for taking action to the stop the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA)! After passing in the Senate last week, OFTA now advances to a final showdown in the House, most likely the week of July 10th. But because of all of your hard work, and the resulting votes last week, we have a good chance of winning!

Next Steps: Now is the time for the FINAL PUSH

• If you haven’t yet, please send a letter to your House Representative about OFTA now, by clicking this link.

• If you have sent a letter but have not yet received a response, please call your House Representative about OFTA; tips and talking points are available by clicking here.

• If you have already called your House Representative, but haven’t received confirmation of a position against OFTA, please click here.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, we need you to help spread the word about OFTA. We’ve pasted below a generic action alert that you can forward to your local, state, or national list. Please get the word out far and wide!

Because of the flood of grassroots opposition to OFTA, the vote in the Senate (60-34) garnered the fewest “aye’s” of any trade agreement in that chamber besides CAFTA. And in the House committee last week, every single Democrat voted “No” – which is better than we have done on any trade agreement, including CAFTA.

Need more inspiration? Read Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach’s analysis of the votes, and how we can defeat OFTA.

Thank you for your fair trade heroism!

Global Trade Watch

p.s. for more info about the Oman FTA, check out our most recent newsletter, or the website of the Citizens Trade Campaign. And please do forward the below alert to your lists!




URGENT ACTION ALERT: STOP THE OMAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (OFTA)

CALL CONGRESS TODAY TO STOP NAFTA EXPANSION TO THE MIDDLE EAST

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 (OFTA).

The Oman deal is word-for-word CAFTA, except where it's worse. The OFTA would provide special access to U.S. markets for clothes made in sweatshops located in Oman – meaning more indentured workers will be trafficked from Bangladesh, China, and other countries to slave away in Omani sweatshops, and more jobs will be lost here at home. Plus, OFTA provides even more power than NAFTA or CAFTA for multinationals to attack our health and environmental laws.

We can defeat this terrible trade deal in Congress, where a final vote in the House of Representatives is expected as soon as the week of July 10th. It is urgent that House Representatives hear from their constituents TODAY to know that we have had enough of unfair trade agreements that threaten jobs, labor rights, democracy and security.

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CALL CONGRESS TODAY to urge opposition to the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA)

Not sure who your member of Congress is? Find out here: http://action.citizen.org/getLocal.jsp
If you can't find your representative's phone number, you can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or toll free at (888) 355-3588 and ask to be connected to your "House Representative" by simply giving the switchboard receptionist your zip code.

When you reach your House Representative's office:

1) 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 Representative to vote NO on the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA) and ask for a response letter or email stating the Representative's position.

2) 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 David Edeli at Public Citizen at dedeli@citizen.org.

3) Spread the word. After you've reported back, forward this email far and wide. We have to act fast if we want to make sure Congress puts the kibosh on President Bush's crazy plans to expand NAFTA to the Sultanate of Oman!

Thank you for all that you do!

Global Trade Watch

p.s. This agreement even worse than the NAFTA/CAFTA model, particularly because of the extreme lack of labor and human rights conditions in Oman. To read the letter of concern and opposition sent by over 400 unions, environmental groups, religious organizations, and other concerns citizens' groups, go here: http://www.citizenstrade.org/pdf/Oman_Sign-On_Letter,_6-27-06.pdf

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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 3 million U.S. manufacturing jobs. Our wages are flat even as prices rise. 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.

* The Oman FTA will lead to serious human rights abuses. The majority of the private sector workforce in Oman is 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 greater 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: http://www.citizenstrade.org/oman.php

Have you sent a letter to Congress about the Oman agreement yet? If not, do so here: http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=3664

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