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Public Statements

Position Paper for Chuck Weed - Testimony 2

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Testimony, March 14th 2001. House Bill 670. Before the Commerce Committee regarding establishment of an international trade commission to hear testimony about consequences of intntl trade agreements on state sovereignty.

During the last 15 years or so, growing Third World indebtedness, the increasing role of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in determining national policy through austerity measures and structural adjustment programs, and the development of the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Association, have caused me to double the amount of time that I focus upon international monetary arrangements in my international politics courses at Keene State College.

The loss of sovereignty has also been moving inexorably downward to the state and local level in industrialized countries, as well. Since the fall of 1999 especially during the WTO negotiations in Seattle, and several other other major meetings of international monetary players, there have been major public demonstrations and concerns expressed regarding the evolution of world trade policy. Next month in Quebec, negotiations over the Free-Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) will take place, and I think we can expect similar large and well covered mass demonstrations by people who are concerned about the secrecy of negotiations and the apparen t loss of control of their own lives and work.
Last fall I was approached by Arnie Alpert of the American Friends Service Committee, here in Concord, to see if I would be interested in sponsoring a bill which would begin the process of reviewing the effects of international trade agreements on New Hampshire self government. House Bill 670 is the result of that contact. I have also received copies of bills being sponsored by our neighboring states, which are very similar in intent to ours.

I want to turn the testimony over to a real expert in this field, but just have 1 or 2 more points. Members of the California legislature body wrote to the US trade Representative Robert Zoellick on Jan.31st of 2001 saying, "We are concerned that, as presently administered, the NAFTA and WTO agreements diminish the sovereignty of states such as California, and in doing so shift decision making power from elected officials to un-elected trade officials."

In March 11th 2001 New York Times, Anthony DePalma wrote, "it is clear that investors have gained a shield far more powerful than most anyone had imagined when NAFTA was written in the early 1990's. "There is no doubt that these measures represented an expansion of the rights of private enterprises vis-a-vis government", said Professor Lewenfeld, an international trade expert at NYU School of Law.

Finally, and in introduction of Robert Stumberg, this is from 1 of his recent articles, Balancing Democracy and Trade, that discusses the effects of trade laws on limiting state sovereignty. He observes, "The result is a trade policy that is less accessible and accountable to the people of any country and a trade system that is more accessible and responsive to multinational corporations that no longer see themselves as the citizens of any particular country. The point is not an argument against trade liberalization; it is an argument for assuring that the process of trade liberalization does not spin off the traditional checks and balances of United States Constitution". And further, "currently, the U.S. trade Representative provides a direct channel of information to each state governor, which might explain the differing perspectives of state legislature from the state governor with respect to the roles of the state. The governor currently has access to information, and the legislature does not."

"Congress provided two distinct roles for the states and federal trade policy: defending state laws and advising the federal government on negotiations. In addition there's a third role that is connected to trade agreements, drafting future state laws, which is the province of this legislature".

To serve our constituents, into begin to understand the effects of international trade agreements on the lives of our citizens, and upon the sovereignty of New Hampshire, I hope you'll strongly consider passing this bill and establishing an International Trade Commission for the State of New Hampshire.

I have taken too much time. I would welcome your questions, but I think that the information that Professor Stumberg has to offer would probably give us much more to talk about.Robert Stumberg is a Professor of Law at Georgetown University. He also serves as the clinical director for the Harrison Institute for Public Law, a teaching and service program that serves public officials and nonprofit organizations. His past positions include Policy Director for the Center for Policy Alternatives and legislative council for Montgomery County, Maryland. For the last year, Professor Stumberg has been speaking to various state legislatures about the effect of international trade agreements on state governments.

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