Sunday, July 25, 2010

AfD joins in opposing Korean FTA

Alliance for Democracy has joined more than 110 organizations in signing a letter to President Obama urging renegotiation of the Korean Free Trade Act.

The letter campaign was organized by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, and encourages Obama to consider the TRADE Act (Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act). You can read the letter by clicking on the "read more" link below.

Dear President Obama:

We, the undersigned faith, family farm, environmental, labor, consumer protection and civil society organizations, are among the many that support your campaign commitments to create a new American trade agreement model that works for more people, and strongly oppose the Bush-negotiated Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Signed by President Bush over three years ago, the Korea FTA represents a throwback to a failed trade policy, not the promised change. Our members strongly oppose more of these same job-killing, community destroying trade policies.

We urge you to renegotiate the Korea FTA text. Doing so offers an opportunity to begin to unify Americans in favor of new trade rules that create American jobs.

This Korea FTA, signed before the financial crisis, includes financial service deregulation terms that typify Bush's FTAs, but contradict efforts to restore stability to the global economy. The pact's labor chapter includes the Bush administration's explicit ban on reference to the International Labor Organization's core Conventions. Yet the Conventions and related jurisprudence are the fundamental platform of international labor rights. This limitation was imposed by the previous administration in 2007 when various FTAs' labor chapters were being modified.

This FTA also includes extreme foreign investor rights and their private investor-state enforcement that you rightly criticized during the campaign. These terms pose special threats because there are many Korean firms operating here that would be newly empowered to attack U.S. environmental, financial, health and other policies in foreign tribunals. Canadian firms have used NAFTA, the only other pact with a major capital exporting country that includes these terms, to bring a series of cases which have cost millions in government legal costs even when we successfully defend against the attacks. Implementing the Korea FTA as written would newly expose the U.S. government and taxpayers to expansive financial liabilities related to compensation demands in foreign tribunals from Korean firms operating within our borders.

These are problems of equal importance to the barriers to the Korean market that were left unaddressed with respect to numerous U.S. industries such as the auto and beef sectors. As you recall, the International Trade Commission's 2007 study of the Korea FTA concluded that it would result in the growth of the U.S. global trade deficit, an outcome that would undermine the goal of creating two million new American jobs through export expansion.

Both the problems with the FTA's rules and with meaningful market access for U.S. exports must be addressed in a manner that incorporates needed improvements into the agreement's legally-binding, enforceable terms.

Moving forward with another job-killing FTA is contrary to what our organizations' millions of members want, and, as polling demonstrates, what the overwhelming majority of Americans want. Public demand for a new American trade model was high even before millions of Americans lost their jobs to the worst economic debacle since the Great Depression. Now, given the level of unemployment and economic insecurity plaguing many Americans, implementing another NAFTA-style trade pact is especially unwise.

As a roadmap for renegotiating the most problematic provisions of the Korea FTA text, we encourage you to consider the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act, which has the support of over 150 members of Congress, including a majority of House Democrats.

We strongly agree with your statements that America needs a new trade agreement model that works for the majority, not just the special interests. We cannot support outdated trade agreements, such as Bush's Korea FTA, that benefit serial offshoring multinational corporations at the expense of America's small businesses, workers and farmers and the environmental, health and public interest laws on which all Americans rely. We hope that you will renegotiate the most damaging aspects of the Korea FTA. If it is brought before Congress without the needed changes, we will work to defeat it.


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