PASCRELL CALLS PERU TRADE DEAL AN HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH IN AMERICA'S TRADE POLICY
U.S. Rep Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee today joined with the House of Representatives to approve an historic free trade agreement with the nation of Peru. The Peru trade deal 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). The legislation passed with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 285-132.
"Passage of this agreement marks an historic breakthrough in America's trade policy. It is a signal to administrations present and future that Congress will be explicitly involved in America's foreign trade deals. It proves that trade can yield broad benefits to manyif done right. Since I've been in Congress, unfortunately, trade agreements have been ill conceived and crafted clearly not with the best interests of working families in mind. This trade agreement marks a significant step forwardthere is no denying that. The Democratic Congress has been able to extract major concessions from an administration that has been hostile to the American worker. With the leadership of Chairman Charlie Rangel, Congress has made incredible and unlikely strides towards a fair trade policy. We're going to continue to push forward for more aggressive labor, environmental and consumer protections, but we sure as heck won't move backwards once this deal is complete."
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.
"Through this deal, the New Jersey business community will gain broader more robust access to the Peruvian marketplace. The current expensive tariffs are an unnecessary and unfair burden for American exporters. The Peru FTA completely eliminates tariffs and quotas on industrial interests that are deeply rooted in New Jersey. This is our chance to increase production and expand the domestic workforce to replenish our factories and farms with decent paying jobs."
"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 Congress. The strong bipartisan backing behind the Peru FTA represents a meaningful step forward towards a trade philosophy that will benefit the working people and economies of the United States and Peru." Pascrell concluded.