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United States- Austrailia Free Trade Implementation Act

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, our Nation's trade policy is not so much a policy as an ideology, and those in the Office of the Trade Representative bow at the altar of free trade.

One way we can level the playing field in trade is to put labor and environmental standards on equal footing with other commercial sections, and why should that not be, such as intellectual property rights, patents, goods and services.
While the Australia FTA does a great job of mentioning the international labor organization and saying the right things, the proof is in the enforcement, and that is lacking in the legislation. The agreement's enforcement procedure excludes an obligation for both governments to meet the international labor organization or any other definable standard.

In the Jordan FTA, which many look to as a model of how the agreement should be written, we had input into that agreement. Labor and environmental articles used the same dispute settlement procedures as every other commercial provision. This is not the case under the Australia agreement.

Let us go to the videotape. Article 18.6.5 clarifies that the key pieces of chapter 21, dispute settlement, "shall not apply
to a matter arising under any provision of this chapter other than article 18.2.1."

Excluding 18.1 and 18.2 from any possibility of dispute settlement or enforcement leaves the sole enforceable labor obligation in these agreements that countries need to "enforce their own labor laws."

This is terrible. And while Australia has a strong labor and environmental protection, what we are doing in this legislation is saying if we cannot add strong labor and environmental agreements with Australia, who the heck can we add it with? Then we are going to get a solid gold standard when it comes to property rights and commercial rights, but we are not willing to do it to labor and the environment?

This stinks, and you know it. And we are not going to pray at that altar.


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