Trade News — Winter 2006


Middle Class Crunch. Off-shoring. "No More of the Same on Trade!" — Do They Hear You Yet?

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

Scrooge be banished — there's plenty to be thankful about here at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. You and your work to hold elected officials are on the top of our list!

We are also thankful because:

  • The U.S. electorate translated its concern about broken trade policies into electoral action that delivered us a new Congress that knows it must change our failed trade policy. Our new report, "Election 2006: No to Staying the Course on Trade", describes how fighting against the NAFTA model was a winner across the country. Check out these stories in USA Today, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post.
  • Dozens of activists participated in our November 15th "Lame Duck, Lame Deal — No Peru Free Trade Agreement" lobby day on Capitol Hill. With the Student Trade Justice Campaign and allies from the Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investment, we visited over 400 congress-people to make clear that Election Day was just the beginning of our fair trade groundswell.
  • A massive proposed WTO expansion — think NAFTA for the whole world — remains derailed over the disillusionment with the damage caused by the existing WTO terms.

We have momentum, but the fight is far from over...

President Bush, as usual, is computing no incoming data. His "stay the course on trade" agenda involves expanding NAFTA not only to Peru, but to Colombia — where over 2,100 labor activists have been murdered since 1991. Despite the hullabaloo against the Peru FTA, the Bush administration went through with signing the Colombia NAFTA expansion on November 22. Read GTW's statement about the Colombia FTA. The newly empowered Democrats in Congress warned President Bush not to sign a NAFTA-clone agreement with Colombia — declaring their intention to force the administration to re-negotiate both deals (PDF).

So what's the problem? Weren't the Democrats just given a majority to stop this outrage? Well, some of the same few who supported CAFTA might also vote for the Peru and Colombia agreements. Plus, some of the Democrats seem intent on only addressing certain aspects of the lack of worker rights in the agreements. The serious labor problems are just the beginning of what needs to be "fixed" in order to have trade agreements that we can support.

The Peru and Colombia FTAs remain a real threat because of "Fast Track" — the undemocratic Nixon-era trade policy-making mechanism that delivered us NAFTA and the WTO. Fast Track lets President Bush bypass the Democratic congressional leadership who control the vote schedule and bring a vote to the floor of the House and Senate on the Peru and/or Colombia FTAs. Unless we work to set a high bar with our members of Congress, the administration will try to garner enough votes by making meaningless tweaks to the labor provisions — rather than really renegotiating these bad agreements.

Which means that next year we'll need to work hard to hold the new Congress accountable to the promise they made on the campaign trail of "no more of the same." We need to make sure that Congress presses for fundamental changes to our existing trade policies, and doesn't just try to get by with mere tweaks to the failed, pro-corporate trade model.

Plus, Fast Track itself expires next June! Public Citizen, in coordination with the broad coalition working for fair trade and our allies in Congress, hope we can replace the failed Fast Track once and for all with a new trade negotiating procedure that will produce trade deals that we can all support!

We'll need your help.

Donate! Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch has been working overtime for the last two years — and now, with the double challenge of defeating Bush's final NAFTA expansion and ensuring Fast Track is returned permanently to the history books, we're going to need to kick it up a notch. We can't do it without the support of dedicated individuals like you, who recognize the importance of combining policy expertise with grassroots mobilization to change the future of trade policy in the United States.

If you can, please make a donation to help us reach more Americans who have become disillusioned with failed trade policy — and them organize for the fight to replace the outdated Fast Track!

Every dollar helps. We don't take any corporate or government money, so we are totally free to represent our members — but we rely on small contributions from many individuals to survive.

Thank you for all that you do,
Your friends at Global Trade Watch

Activist Spotlight

Christina Lizzi is the president of Students for Fair Trade, a student group from George Washington University that is affiliated with the Student Trade Justice Campaign. She helped to bottom-line the "Lame Duck Lame Deal — No Peru FTA" lobby day in DC. Read her story and please e-mail her to say thank you for all her hard work.


More Headlines from GTW

  • Peru FTA: Peru's new and increasingly authoritarian president, Alan Garcia, pushes for totalitarian new restrictions on non-governmental organizations. Read Human Rights Watch's press release.
  • Colombia FTA: Three congressmen from Colombian president Alvaro Uribe's political party have been arrested for ties to bloody massacres by paramilitaries, reports the Washington Post. It's no wonder the Democrats have rejected overtures to support the Colombia FTA.
  • Slave Labor in South America's Amazon: Bloomberg reports on wide scale, horrific slave labor today in the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. Puts in perspective the perils of unenforceable labor rules in the Peru FTA.
  • Peru and Colombia Opposition to FTAs: Despite threats of violence and intimidation, Colombians and Peruvians are speaking out against the proposed FTA. Afro-Colombian and Afro-Peruvian groups recently sent this letter to the U.S. Congress (PDF).
  • Ecuador's new President says "No, gracias" to U.S. FTA: Rafael Correa, an economist who campaigned against the proposed FTA with the United States, won the presidential elections in a landslide against Ecuador's richest man.
  • U.S. Multinationals in China: The New York Times reported that U.S. corporations like Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Nike are actively lobbying against a new Chinese government proposal to strengthen China's weak labor laws. Talk about a race to the bottom! Alternet has more background on this story.

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