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John Bacino on March 12, 2007 - 8:29am
Monday, March 12, 2007
Conference Call: Stopping "Fast Track"
On Friday, March 16th at 1pm EST, Progressive States Network will be sponsoring a conference call to discuss the campaign for state resolutions opposing "fast track" reauthorization and how states can make their voices heard in the trade debate.
Since there is a chance the time will change due to speaker schedules, please RSVP if interested so we can update you on any time changes.
In Today's Dispatch:
Preventing Trade Deals from Undermining State Power
When the Montana State Senate voted overwhelmingly two weeks ago to oppose approval of reauthorization of "Fast Track" Trade Promotion authority for new trade deals, it sent a powerful message that the American people and state governments are tiring of misguided trade deals.
Instead of delivering promised economic growth, those trade rules have led to enormous trade deficits, lost jobs and an undermining of state democratic powers to regulate large corporations in the public interest.
This Dispatch will highlight the problems with present trade laws, emphasizing especially the undermining of local regulatory powers, but also what states like Montana are doing to challenge these global backroom deals. Many of the resources linked to come from Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, one of the key allies Progressive States is working with to promote resolutions like Montana's that will send a message from the states that we need a new approach to global trade.
Background on a Failed Trade System
While the American people believe that in a fair trading system working families both in the United States and abroad would benefit, they are increasingly skeptical that the present trade regime is fair or delivering on that promise. As polls show:
As the AFL-CIO Executive Council argued in a resolution approved last week:
Why are we getting such bad trade deals? The answer is a "fast track" process that allows the President to negotiate trade deals, then prevents any amendments or real debate when those trade deals are submitted to Congress.
This means that multinational corporate interests know that if they cut a backroom deal at global negotiating forums, such special interest provisions can't be removed when the deal comes up for a vote in Congress. We then have the repeated threat in which elected officials are told that they either vote "Yes" or the whole global economy will collapse. No third option of building real labor, environmental and consumer protections into those trade deals is even allowed.
State Regulation Under Assault by Trade Deals
When trade deals were merely about lowering tariffs, this lack of democratic process was not such a deep problem, but trade deals today are as thick as phone books with detailed provisions governing areas ranging from prescription drugs to government procurement rules. Trade rules impact the most basic areas of day-to-day democratic decision-making at both the federal and state level, so it is no longer acceptable for trade negotiations to lack a democratic framework that includes the voices of all sectors of society, including state governments whose powers are increasingly undermined by such deals.
Those assaults on state sovereignty have only accelerated in recent years:
Investor Lawsuits against State Laws: One growing concern is the independent power being granted to corporations to use international trade law to sue state governments. NAFTA has given private corporations the right to sue state governments under so-called "investor rights" provisions:
Undercutting Government Procurement Laws: Rules governing purchases of goods and services by state governments are increasingly being struck down based on trade rules and agreements:
New Limits of Regulation of Services: An even deeper threat to state sovereignty is the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) which, as it is expanded, could undercut state powers over zoning and land use, health care, gambling and a range of other public services:
States Taking Action
Because of the threat to state democratic decision-making, states in recent years have increasingly demanded a voice in federal trade negotiations:
States have introduced the Jobs, Trade and Democracy Act, a model bill (HI version as introduced) that ensures that citizens and state legislators have access to information on the impact of trade policy, requires governors to have the consent of the state legislature to bind the state to international trade agreements, and creates oversight bodies to assess the legal and economic effects of trade agreements.
And states are moving to follow Montana in passing resolutions aimed directly at Congress to demand that "fast track" be rejected and a new mechanism be created to establish binding negotiating commitments early and to include state governments and other sectors within the process of establishing US trade negotiation objectives.
As trade negotiations move beyond tariff negotiations to becoming a de facto global legislative system of regulating the global economy, it becomes even more important that states raise their voices to demand that the outdated and undemocratic "fast track" system be replaced by a democratic process for establishing US trade objectives.
If states don't join Montana in sending a message to Congress on trade, they will increasingly find that much of their legislative work is irrelevant as international trade deals preempt state laws and set the rules for their local economy.
Economic Policy Institute, Trade & Globalization
Center for American Progress, What the Public Really Wants on Globalization and Trade
AFL-CIO Executive Committee, Fast Track or the Right Track?
Citizens Trade Campaign, Trade Issues
Sierra Club, Stop Fast Track: Make Trade Clean, Green, and Fair
State Regulation Under Assault by Trade Deals
Public Citizen, The Ten Year Track Reocrd of the North American Free Trade Agreement Undermining Sovereignty and Democracy
Forum on Democracy & Trade, WTO Talks Resume with a Push on Services; New Disciplines on "Domestic Regulation"?
States Taking Action
Hawaii Senate, Jobs, Trade and Democracy Act
Eye on the Right
ID: Legislative Wrap Up
3 Steps Forward
2 Steps Back
Dept. of Corrections
In last Thursday's Dispatch, we stated that Iowa had a bill mandating corporate disclosure. In fact, the bill was filed in Missouri. The link in the story, however, correctly links to the Missouri bill.
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