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US - Peru Sign Weak Trade Agreement

Location: Washington, DC

US - Peru Sign Weak Trade Agreement

USTR still has time and authority to include labor standards in the FTA

Washington, D.C. - While negotiators for the United States and Peru signed the text of a free trade agreement this afternoon, it is not too late for the agreement to include basic labor standards. Leading House Democrats from the Committee on Ways and Means offered the following comments in response to today's signing ceremony:

"It is not too late to change this pact for the better," said Ways and Means Ranking Member Charles Rangel. "The Administration can negotiate changes to this FTA right until it is passed by Congress and becomes law. If President Bush wants broad congressional support for this FTA, USTR will accept President Toledo's offer to include basic labor standards in the text of the agreement."

Last Friday, key House and Senate Democrats authored a letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), noting the serious problems with Peru's labor laws and repeating earlier requests for USTR to accept Peruvian President Toledo's offer to include in the FTA an enforceable obligation to comply with basic ILO standards. Democrats also suggested a major aid package to help Peru implement its obligations and ensure the agreement brings broad-based benefits to the people of Peru and the United States.

"The current text of the agreement ignores serious problems with Peru's labor laws as outlined by the US State Department," said Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Benjamin Cardin. "Including basic labor standards in the FTA would not only bring broad support here in Congress, but would also help improve conditions in Peru and open new markets for American goods."

"This agreement is a seriously missed opportunity to shape expanded trade and make globalization work so the benefits are widely shared by citizens of both our nations," said Rep. Levin. "The Bush Administration is once again seriously missing an opportunity to rebuild a broad bipartisan coalition in our nation so vital to tackle important issues of international trade."

The unique, bicameral letter sent last week was signed by the following members:

Sen. Bingaman Rep. Rangel
Sen. Jeffords Rep. Cardin
Sen. Wyden Rep. Levin
Sen. Schumer Rep. Lewis (GA)
Sen. Kerry Rep. Neal
Rep. Becerra
Rep. Pomeroy
Rep. Tubbs Jones
Rep. Larson
Rep. Thompson
Rep. Emanuel

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