UNITED STATES-BAHRAIN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - December 07, 2005)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4340, the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. This agreement is an example of the success that bi-partisan engagement on trade issues can generate, and this agreement should be a model, a starting point, for how we can achieve success in the future.
During consideration of this agreement in the Ways and Means Committee, Democrats expressed their concern about the treatment and application of international labor standards in the agreement. Since that time, both the Administration and Bahrain have worked at our urging to include Bahrain's commitments to begin applying international labor standards immediately in their county as well as their timetable to bring all of their laws into ILO compliance as conditional and enforceable elements of the agreement. In other words, as we argued during the CAFTA debate, workers rights should enjoy the same level of protection we place on goods and intellectual property rights, a balance that was sorrowfully left out of the CAFTA agreement. In addition to this, the Bahraini government has demonstrated its world leadership by recently becoming one of the first Arab League nations to remove its boycott on Israeli goods and services.
These steps are encouraging, and indicate that countries are willing to accept minimum standards if the United States insists they be part of free trade agreements: The agreement shows that working together bipartisanly on trade issues will produce agreements that address the standards we feel every 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.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT