PASCRELL, WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE FORMALLY APPROVE PERU TRADE DEAL
PERU FTA REPRESENTS HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH FOR LABOR RIGHTS
U.S. Rep Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee today joined with the committee to unanimously approve an historic free trade agreement with the nation of Peru. The Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) marks a breakthrough in America's international trade policy by including a fully enforceable commitment from a partner country to adopt and enforce the international labor standards determined by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
"This agreement is a signal to administrations present and future that Congress will be explicitly involved in America's foreign trade deals. For the first time in any trade agreement, we have established fully enforceable obligations that require FTA parties to effectively enforce core labor rights. America's trade policy is not perfect, and I rarely find myself supporting trade agreements, but I believe this one marks significant progress towards a more responsible trade philosophy."
On April 24, 2007 Rep. Pascrell met with Peru's leader, President Alan Garcia, and the Peruvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jose Garcia Perez, to discuss the pending trade agreement, and express the importance of Peru modernizing its legal framework to comply with international labor standards.
With the Peru FTA, Congress has finally created an opportunity to incorporate the worker rights protections that Rep. Pascrell and others have fought for years to establish. As a result of the May 10 agreement negotiated by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Charlie Rangel, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman, Sander Levin, the labor chapter of the Peru FTA includes a fully enforceable commitment that countries adopt and enforce the five basic international labor standards:
(1) freedom of association;
(2) effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
(3) elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; and
(4) effective abolition of child labor and a prohibition on the worst forms of child labor.
(5) elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupations.
The FTA also includes commitments to enforce a sixth set of rights - those pertaining to acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work and occupational safety and health.
"I commend Chairmen Rangel and Levin for breaking down the barriers that left me with no choice but to oppose a number of ineffectual trade agreements that have come before me in Congress. Thanks to the work of Committee Leadership, President Garcia has already begun to implement worker protections that will allow Peruvian workers to organize. The Peru FTA is a meaningful step forward towards a trade policy that will benefit the working people and economies of the United States and Peru." Pascrell concluded.