Udall Votes Against CAFTA, Says Bad In The Agreement Outweighs The Good
(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Congressman Udall released the following statement regarding his vote against the Central American Free Trade Agreement:
"I cannot support the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (DR-CAFTA). Deciding how to vote on this has not been easy, but ultimately I believe that the bad in the agreement outweighs the good.
"I definitely believe free trade brings benefits, but in this case I question who would get those benefits. I think that an improved commercial relationship with the Dominican Republic and the five Central American countries could benefit our economy and U.S. farmers, workers, and manufacturers, but I am concerned about a number of provisions of DR-CAFTA. The agreement will help some U.S. agricultural industries, services markets, and high technology, chemical, medical and scientific equipment companies, among others; however it will harm other agricultural markets, and could have a detrimental impact on small Central American farmers as well. We ought to be encouraging rural economic development in this part of the world, not undercutting it.
"The most problematic aspect of DR-CAFTA is that the administration failed to incorporate internationally recognized labor standards. Nor does the agreement clearly require any country to maintain and enforce a set of basic environmental regulations. While expanded trade is important, it will only be beneficial to a broad range of people in our nation and abroad if it is carefully shaped to include basic standards and adequately protect the rights of workers and the environment. This agreement does not meet that test.
"DR-CAFTA would also allow foreign investors to challenge our laws and regulations before international tribunals, bypassing domestic courts, if they believe U.S. laws on labor, environmental protections, and public health and safety reduce the value of their investments. The U.S. has already spent millions defending our laws from NAFTA, which includes a similar provision.
"DR-CAFTA also creates a challenge to the safety of the American food supply because it is silent on the issue of imported goods meeting the rigorous food safety and sanitary rules of the United States Department of Agriculture. This agreement takes a step backward in our efforts to provide the American consumer with the safest food possible.
"As part of a long-term strategy to strengthen the American economy, I have supported a number of agreements to expand access to foreign markets for exports from our nation's farmers and businesses, but I cannot support DR-CAFTA. I don't want this country to miss out on economic opportunities, but the problems with this agreement are real, and I don't believe this agreement will create the opportunities its proponents have touted. In the end, our progress together has to be about raising, and not lowering wages, reducing and not adding to the world's poverty, making more 'haves' and fewer 'have-nots'.
"I do believe in actively shaping globalization, not passively closing our doors. Although I cannot support DR-CAFTA today, I remain committed to this activist course."