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US House Passes 'Groundbreaking' FTA With Peru

by Leroy Baker, Tax-News.com, New York

09 November 2007


The Bush administration has welcomed the approval by the House of Representatives of a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Peru which strengthens labor rights and environmental protections.

"This is an important bipartisan accomplishment," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson commented in a statement following the FTA's approval by a vote of 285 to 132 on Thursday.

"This bipartisan consensus follows the call we heard from business leaders at the White House this week highlighting how important these agreements are for continued job creation and protecting US investments. Members of Congress from both parties recognize that greater engagement with the world is essential to our growth. The US must continue to seek partners to join us in advancing a global agenda that will help more people realize the benefits of international trade and competition," Paulson added.

The FTA is the first to incorporate the enhanced labor and environmental protections set out in the May 10 bipartisan agreement between the Administration and the House and Senate Democratic and Republican leadership.

"Today's vote marks an historic achievement for the US and Peruvian people. The US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement is the foundation of an enduring partnership with one of America’s key friends and allies in Latin America," US Trade Represenative Susan Schwab noted on Thursday.

“The conventional wisdom last fall was that the President and Congress could not come together to make progress on a pro-trade agenda. The Administration reached out to build on shared principles and sort out honest differences," she added.

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, one of the principal supporters of the legislation, argued that the Peru FTA is "an historic breakthrough" because not only will it open new markets for American goods and services, but for the first time enforceable standards for workers and stronger environmental protections have been included in the text of the agreement.

"You don’t have to be a trade specialist to know that this bill presents tremendous opportunity for American manufacturers by tearing down existing trade barriers and granting access to Peruvian markets," he remarked.

“As we move forward with a new American trade policy, we will continue to improve the quality of life for our workers and we can’t do this by party politics, but we can do it by principle and this agreement is strong on principle," Rangel concluded.


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