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NAFTA Expansion to Peru

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


NAFTA EXPANSION TO PERU -- (House of Representatives - October 02, 2007)

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, the proposed Bush NAFTA expansion to Peru provides no path to job growth in the United States or to correcting the growing U.S. trade deficit with Peru. The Bush proposal will yield the same result: more outsourced U.S. jobs, growing trade deficits, more landless Peruvian farmers, rising coca production, more illegal immigration, continued decline in the quality of life on both continents, and enrichment for a narrow band of political and multinational elites.

The proposed Peru agreement keeps intact some of the most offensive NAFTA-CAFTA provisions, such as prohibiting Congress from passing legislation to promote ``buy American'' or to prevent the offshoring of more of our jobs. We keep asking ourselves: If you keep getting the same bad result, why keep enacting more of the same kinds of laws?

The agreement even amplifies the CAFTA provisions regarding foreign investors being able to procure government contracts and settle disputes outside of U.S. courts. I find it unacceptable that the agreement handcuffs this Congress as it attempts to protect the interests of the people who send us to represent them. That's supposed to be our job.

On a number of fronts, the Peru Free Trade Agreement stands to cause more harm than good. Take worker rights. The agreement merely commits Peru to hortatory, nonbinding language in the preamble to the ILO convention, and it does nothing to assure enforcement through the actual body of the conventions that provide the real protection for workers. There are no worker protections in this draft.

In addition, the environmental provisions are equally inferior. All of the major environmental groups oppose the agreement, but for a couple who receive heavy corporate contributions. Would this have anything to do with the fact that the Andalusian pipeline that will bring more oil and gas out of Latin America might have something to do with this agreement?

Importantly, in agriculture, as Oxfam points out, ``the agreement will harm many thousands of Peru's farmers,'' just as in Mexico millions of farmers have been harmed who then flock to the United States to find any kind of sustenance. Though some American farmers think they will stand to benefit from the zeroed-out tariffs, many don't understand that the MERCOSUR customs agreement between Peru and its neighbors will allow pork to flow in there from Argentinean and Brazilian imports. So I would think that our pork producers should be very skeptical that they're going to claim the largest share of that market.

Now, where are these displaced Peruvian farmers supposed to turn? Perhaps, in their desperation for a profitable crop, they will help Peru reclaim its title as the world's number one coca producer. Or perhaps they will follow the same path as Mexico's abandoned corn and bean farmers and migrate to the overcrowded cities of the United States, legally or not.

President Bush's Peru deal continues the bad trade policies that leave our consumers vulnerable to food safety catastrophes. Peru places second to China in its fisheries, and plenty of Peruvian seafood imports to our country are rejected due to filth, salmonella and equally disturbing criteria. Indeed, 27 percent, a third of all Peruvian antibiotic lines imported to this country already are found to be tainted and rejected. Why would we want more?

Until now, Democrats have stood united against President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security in the United States; yet the proposed Peruvian agreement effectively endorses and solidifies Peru's privileged and privatized and severely flawed system. Giant multinational banks such as Citibank that invest in these private investor accounts would, under the Peru agreement, be entitled to compensation if privatization were reversed.

Despite all of these concerns, instead of holding a formal hearing on such far-reaching legislation for a country of 28.7 million people, half of whom live below the severe poverty line, the Ways and Means Committee instead held what's called a mock markup session last week. There were no recorded votes. It was a mock session. No recorded votes. No Member outside of the committee was invited to testify or comment, and they kept the old fast track procedure where they're going to bring it up here and not allow any amendments. It's another inside deal, because if you really had a full deal, a square deal, a fair deal, the majority of Members of this Congress would not vote for it, so they have to put handcuffs on everybody in order to try to maneuver it through here.

Had I been allowed to submit testimony on the record at the hearing, I would have voiced my strong opposition to this NAFTA-style agreement that is destined to further exploit the struggling working classes in Peru and the United States. Unless it results in new jobs for our country and growing trade balances, rather than more deficits, no Member should support it. Any trade agreement that passes here should have mutually beneficial approaches which yield trade balances and jobs in our country.

I'd ask my colleagues to defeat this exploitative NAFTA expansion model for Peru.

END


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