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US Peru FTA 'New Deal' For International Trade

by Leroy Baker,, New York

20 September 2007

Senior Democrat Representative Charles Rangel has reiterated his belief that the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Peru, scheduled for informal committee mark-up next week, represents a "new deal" for international trade.

Speaking ahead of the weekly meeting of the House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel said that his colleagues shared his conviction that this agreement represents a new direction for American trade policy.

“Trade policy should be an issue where, on every agreement, there should be an 'American stamp' indicating that it represents the values we hold so dear,” observed Rangel.

“We have an opportunity to do this with consideration of the US-Peru FTA. As President Garcia said, this agreement represents a 'New Deal' for international trade and it helps to strengthen America’s friendship and partnership with our Latin American neighbor. For the first time we have – in the text of the agreement - a commitment to implement and enforce minimum labor standards to promote fairness and decency for workers, uphold strong international commitments on the environment and expand access to life-saving medicines in developing countries," he added.

Rangel is of the view that workers' rights should be recognised above the interests of multinational corporations in the negotiation of free trade deals. "Previously, we were told that labor rights had no place in trade agreements, but the US-Peru FTA gives us an opportunity to make history so that international trade can truly reflect the views and needs of workers to raise standards of living worldwide," he announced after meeting with Peruvian President Alan Garcia last month.

Rangel said that in the previously Republican-dominated Congresses, Democrats had little say in the make-up of FTAs, but with the change in the Congressional balance of power, this has now changed.

“For the past seven years, trade policy was held hostage by partisan gridlock,” he observed. “Republicans prevented Democrats from having any input – not only on trade agreements, but in the formation of trade policy. This was unfortunate, but the Peru FTA presents an opportunity to move forward toward re-establishing a bipartisan consensus on trade.”

Rangel announced that the Ways and Means Committee would proceed directly to the informal consideration, or mark-up, of the US-Peru FTA next week, during a Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 25.

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