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Public Statements

Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

By:
Date:
Location: Washington DC


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC-CENTRAL AMERICA-UNITED STATES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - July 27, 2005)

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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise in unfortunate opposition to this DR-CAFTA agreement. represents a real missed opportunity for this Congress and this Administration to engage in a real meaningful negotiation to improve trade relations between the United States, the Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, this agreement represents a step backward from over 20 years worth of U.S. laws and enforcement efforts.

The pact falls short of the standards that any trade agreement America signs onto should meet: the broad fulfillment of America's economic interests, the opening of fair markets for America's goods and services and the reversal of America's ever-growing trade deficit. Whoever the winners, they're not the American or the Central American worker. I support free--and fair--trade, but that isn't what CAFTA will accomplish.

At a Chamber of Commerce meeting in my district, I was struck by the fact that many small manufacturers were outraged at the lack of focus by the Administration in protecting their industry and their jobs. In fact, had I closed my eyes I would have thought I was at an A.F.L.-C.I.O. rally. In a moment of candor, one of the manufacturers said, when large companies started downsizing their labor force and outsourcing their work to us we were silent, we couldn't conceive that it was only a matter of time before we too would be outsourced. When will the government do something about this race to the bottom?

That's how my district sees this, and I share their view. Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity, an opportunity where frankly CAFTA countries told us they were more than willing to accept stronger provisions if they had only been asked to. Violations of international labor standards should not be held to a different standard than other violations on matters like intellectual property.

Supporters of CAFTA also point to the fact that labor standards and working conditions will be monitored by agencies like the International Labor Organization, part of the United Nations which established international labor standards and which verifies that these standards are met. I guess now with this trade agreement the Administration is running out of American Jobs to outsource and has moved on to official U.S. government functions. Since when are we are going to allow the United Nations to determine whether or not other counties are in compliance with our treaties?

In the typical ``bait and switch'' tactics of the Republican Majority, what they are not telling you here is that just a few weeks ago, they approved an $82 billion funding cut Proposed by President Bush to the principal agency that supports foreign labor standards technical assistance, virtually assuring that no oversight or enforcement will ever actually take place.

Jobs are now America's fastest-growing export. We should be exporting our values and market goods not our jobs. As the world's richest nation, we have a moral obligation to lift the standard of living of the world's poor. It is double-speak for the President to say he wants to promote democracy to the south of our borders but pushes a trade agreement that consigns subsistence workers to economic bondage and forces American businesses to compete on an uneven playing field.

This is the wrong trade agreement for the United States and for Central America. I urge my colleagues to vote no and send this treaty back to President Bush to be renegotiated.

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