Oregon Delegation Split on Peru Trade Agreement

Earlier today, the US House passed the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement to expand trade with Peru. Oregon's house delegation was divided in the vote.

From the Oregonian:

The U.S. House today passed an agreement to expand trade with Peru.

The U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement has seen fierce opposition from labor advocates who say it would cost jobs in the United States. But the pact's supporters say it has strong protections for human rights in Peru and the environment. The pact passed in a 285-132 vote.

Oregon Democrats Peter DeFazio and David Wu voted against the pact. Democrats Earl Blumenauer and Darlene Hooley and Republican Greg Walden, voted for it. Southwest Washington Democrat Brian Baird also voted for it.

Blumenauer, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees trade, worked to include environmental and labor protections that he said have not been in previous trade deals.

However, not everyone agreed with Blumenauer's vote:

Still, he has received criticism from labor and human rights groups in his district for his support of the pact.

"For the first time, Congress has passed a trade agreement with real, enforceable labor and environmental standards that protect workers and the planet," Blumenauer said in a written statement. "In my new position on the Ways and Means Committee, I worked to include these landmark provisions because I am committed to advancing a new type of trade that addresses Oregon's concerns about workers and the environment."

Blumenauer said the agreement "sets a new standard for how this Congress will craft future trade deals."

In a statement last night, DeFazio had a very different take on the deal. He called the labor and environmental provisions "modest" and said U.S. trade policy is "a failed engine for America's economy."

"This agreement is by, for and about Wall Street, plain and simple," DeFazio said. "It's not in the best interest of American workers, the U.S. economy, or our national security."

Sens. Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden plan to vote for the Peru deal.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, Rep. Blumenauer is on Ways and Means, but to be fair, Rep. Wu is on the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee of Foreign Affairs. He knows his stuff.

    I went to State Department briefing on this subject (along with Panama and Colombia) over the summer, and the general theme that came across was that these trade agreements were built from the ground up to include provisions to protect labor, both here and in the other nation. They seemed (at least in rhetoric) to have confidence that these trade agreements would be much more symbiotic than NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.

    I haven't seen a finished product, so I can't speak to this decisively, but I think the fact that Rep. Wu (my former boss, and former Congressman) and Rep. DeFazio (my current Congressman) voted against it illustrates that it is not ready to be passed. Hopefully we can make good on that DoS rhetoric and ensure that both nations are going to solidly benefit from any FTAs before we set them in place.

  • Chris (unverified)

    If the labor protections in this deal are so great, why did no labor unions support it? Why did SEIU, the Machinists, the Teamsters, Unite-Here, and many other unions speak out against it? Why did most of Blumenauer's party disagree with him on this? Why did Tom Donahue, President of the U.S. Chamber of Congress, and a proponent of the deal, say that “the labor provisions (in the Peru FTA) cannot be read to require compliance with ILO Conventions." Why does Mark Barenberg, a Columbia University law professor say that the agreement actually imposes lighter sanctions for labor standard violations than current trade law does?

  • orftc (unverified)

    The Peru FTA was negotiated by the Bush administration, and the Business Roundtable and other corporate special interests did the heavy lifting to get it through Congress.

    When OxFam America tells you that the deal will increase poverty, when Peru's labor confederations say it won't protect worker rights, when Greenpeace and Amazon Watch say it will harm the environment, when the Amazon's largest indigenous rights organization says it will hurt indigenous peoples, maybe it's time to take a second look at these so-called "strong protections for human rights in Peru and the environment."

  • Francisco (unverified)

    I have to give kudos to the Democrats for being consistent. Unfortunately they are being consistent in giving the Bush administration everything they want. I agree with DeFazio's comments that "This agreement is by, for and about Wall Street, plain and simple. It's not in the best interest of American workers, the U.S. economy, or our national security." I would add that it is not in the best interest of the Peruvian workers, indigenous people or the environment!!

  • Greg (unverified)

    Blumenauer boasts about the supposed improvement of labor and environmental standards in the Peru agreement. What he fails to comment on is the overwhelming evidence that the Nafta/Cafta model that Peru is based on has had disastorous effects on workers in the US and the partner countries. When will our elected representatives grow a pair and stand up for the people against these global corporate take overs?

  • hook (unverified)

    A big thank you to my own Congressman, David Wu, for standing up for his constituents and human rights in opposing the Peru FTA!

    The Democratic Caucus got a lot of pressure from Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emmanuel and Big Business to vote for this so-called "deal." The fact that the majority of House Democrats, the majority of committee chairs, and a very large majority of freshmen Democrats all voted NO was fantastic and spoke loud-and-clear that Congressional leaders have slipped too far from their base.

    Most in the Party understand that an economic justice platform that talks about creating good jobs and family wages can keep Democrats in the majority. It's a shame that Party leaders still haven't caught up to what the rest of us have known for a long time.

  • Laurie King (unverified)

    Earl Blumenauer and Democratic Party leaders boast that for the first time, Congress has passed a trade agreement with labor standards that protect workers. However, according to the Peru Free Trade Agreement, hearings on any possible labor violations can only be initiated by the Presidents of Peru and the United States! This is what "enforceable" means.

    The Peru Free Trade Agreement simply declares that there should not be slave labor or child labor. It does not specify at what age child labor begins, nor does it specify what constitutes slave conditions. These determinations are left up to a secret trade tribunal. According to Democratic Party leaders and Rep. Blumenauer, these are "real standards."

    With all the pressure that was exerted to get a majority of Dems to vote for the Peru agreement, it is great that Representatives Wu and DeFazio saw that these "standards" were a fig-leaf to cover up another failed trade deal that is good for large corporations at the expense of the average citizen.

  • Chris (unverified)

    Earl sent me his e-newsletter today with this: "According to the AFL-CIO, “The Peru Free Trade Agreement marks an important step toward a trade model that will benefit working people in both countries.” What he left out was this line a little later in the same letter from the labor federation: "the AFL-CIO is not in a position to support the Peru FTA." I guess they thought it was a step in the right direction, but not a big enough one.

    Nice try, Earl.

  • (Show?)

    There's a cool little story in USA Today about Argentina's successful defiance of Wrold Bank/IMF conventional wisdom.

    Mercosur, including Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, have set the model. More nations will be abandoning the conventional wisdom and eroding the stranglehold of perpetual debt set up by the Chicago School bastids that have dominated the debate for the past 50 years.

    Look for our delegation to get a clue in a few more years.....

  • SallyC (unverified)

    Congressman Wu has consistently sided w/ people on issues of unfair trade over the years. He voted against MFN with China, etc.

    These trade agreements continue to be a disaster for the U.S. and workers in both countries. They're pushed by the corporate supremecitsts in Washington at the expense of their constituents.

  • Bruce Cronk (unverified)

    So Senator Wyden is poised to once again sell out U.S. workers. Why do we keep electing this guy?

  • Chris (unverified)

    "So Senator Wyden is poised to once again sell out U.S. workers. Why do we keep electing this guy?"

    Yes, Wyden is pretty bad on these issues, but he doesn't just represent the third district, like Blumenauer does. The Third Congressional District should have a progressive representing them, but instead, we get Blumenauer, who is bad on trade, who is not a member of the Progressive Caucus...he's not even a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus.

    I would love to have someone better than Wyden as a senator, but getting a true progressive in Blumenauer's seat might be more realistic.

  • David Delk (unverified)

    I sent this Letter to the Oregonian's editors.

    "After voting Yes for the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Rep. Blumenauer said lowered tariffs on Freightliner trucks would create good paying Oregon jobs.

    "Now with the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement, we are told that “the deal will lower barriers to US exports, which currently enter Peru with tariffs as high as 30 percent. That will promote additional exports of such items as equipment loaders manufactured by Northwest firms. That will help retain high-paying jobs in this region, rather than reduce them.”

    "Several months after Rep Blumenauer voted Yes on the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Freightliner said it would open new manufacturing facilities….in Mexico.

    "Earlier this year, Freightliner closed down their Portland Freightliner truck manufacturing line. 800 good paying jobs, gone to Mexico.

    "Now Rep. Blumenauer and the Oregonian advocate for yet another “Free Trade Agreement.” How many more good paying jobs will we lose as a result?"

  • joe walsh--lone vet (unverified)

    Blumenauer Is A Liar!

    Many of you probably received a letter from Blumenauer pounding his chest about how wonderful the Peru trade deal is and how everyone involved will prosper. Here is the letter, you need to read this to understand what is called lying by omission:

    Dear Friend,

    For years, I have been fighting against the Bush trade policy and for trade that is better for working families, the environment and poor people at home and abroad. After 2006, Congress said no more trade deals unless they met long-standing Democratic demands for workers rights and the environment. After months of difficult negotiations, the administration agreed to every Democratic demand. This week, Congress passed a trade agreement that for the first time contains fully enforceable labor and environmental standards. In my new position on the House Ways and Means Committee, I worked to include these landmark provisions because I am committed to advancing a new type of trade that addresses Oregon’s concerns. The U.S.-Peru Trade Agreement is not an extension of CAFTA, which I voted against. Instead, it is a groundbreaking agreement that helps workers in Oregon and Peru, protects the environment, and strengthens our economy: LABOR According to the AFL-CIO, “The Peru Free Trade Agreement marks an important step toward a trade model that will benefit working people in both countries.”

    We know that when done right, trade can be used to help lift working people out of poverty and strengthen local economies. For the first time ever, Congress has passed a landmark agreement that includes international labor standards that are 100% enforceable. The Peru Trade Agreement required that both the United States and Peru enforce core International Labor Organization standards that are indeed part of the Agreement. It also prohibits both countries from weakening their labor laws to attract trade or investment. In fact, Congressional Democrats insisted that Peru make significant changes to its labor laws to bring them in line with international labor standards before Congress would vote on the agreement. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee – which is responsible for these agreements – I believe that the Peru Trade Agreement marks a new threshold for international labor standards that future trade deals will be expected to meet or exceed. OREGON ECONOMY With almost 400,000 Oregon jobs tied directly to international trade, trade is significant to our state and regional economy. While most of Peru’s exports enter the U.S. duty-free, many American exports to Peru face tariffs as high as 30%. The agreement will help reduce our trade deficit by eliminating barriers to American exports. The International Trade Commission estimates that the Peru Trade Agreement will increase U.S. exports by $1.1 billion, grow U.S. GDP by $2.1 billion, and reduce the trade deficit by over $600 million. ENVIRONMENT Oregon was just ranked one of the nation’s greenest states by Forbes Magazine. I am proud of our leadership to protect the environment but we can do more to promote environmental protection throughout the world. Many environmental organizations agree that the Peru Trade Agreement gives us new tools to protect global natural resources. According to a collection of environmental organizations, among them the Center for International Environmental Law, Defenders of Wildlife, EarthJustice, Environmental Investigation Agency, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club, “the environmental provisions included in the final text of the Peru Trade Agreement mark a significant step forward, and we commend the Democratic leadership for this achievement.” I worked very hard to make sure that fully enforceable environmental requirements were included in the Peru Trade Agreement. Like the labor standards, these environmental provisions are not recommendations; they are stringent laws that must be enforced and they are already beginning to have an impact. Click here to read more about how some of the Amazon has been saved from oil and gas exploration because of the Peru Trade Agreement. PERUVIAN FARMERS I am deeply concerned about the impact of America’s subsidies on poor farmers, which is why I have been working to reform farm policy and the Farm Bill here at home. The Peru Trade Agreement has built-in provisions that protect Peruvian farmers with a 17-year phase-in as the nation opens its agricultural markets. We need to get our own house in order. When the House debated the 2007 Farm Bill, I lead the fight to reform our agricultural subsidy system in order to ensure more honest and fair trade, protect family farmers at home and abroad, and increase investments in critical nutrition, conservation, and rural development programs. With more attention turning to U.S. farm policy with regards to trade, energy and the environment, I will continue to focus on reforming our country’s farm subsidy programs. The U.S.-Peru Trade Agreement sets a new higher standard for all future trade negotiations, and provides a benefit to Oregon’s economy. This new Congress is not passing trade deals in the style of the Bush administration. Instead, we are moving in a new direction, achieving long-standing demands on labor and environmental standards, and setting the stage for more far-reaching victories in all future trade agreements. Click here to read more about the Peru Trade Agreement.


    Earl Blumenauer Member of Congress


    The AFL-CIO welcomes the progress made by the House and Senate Democratic leadership in negotiating improvements to key sections of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (Peru FTA). Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin have negotiated new provisions that represent real progress in the crucial areas of workers' rights and the environment, which the AFL-CIO has fought to achieve for many years. How we deal with labor rights and the environment have been central to the debate over globalization and its impact on working families, both here in the United States and around the world. We hope these new labor provisions will provide a starting point for future efforts to strengthen and effectively enforce protections for workers in the global economy. The new provisions will not solve all the problems workers face, but they will provide another important and useful tool to pressure governments and corporations to respect workers' fundamental human rights.

    But beyond the labor and environment provisions of the Peru FT A, several issues of concern to working families, particularly with respect to investment, procurement and services, were not adequately addressed. These provisions have important ramifications for our members' jobs and communities, and as a result the AFL-CIO is not in a position to support the Peru FT A.

    We believe that investor-to-state dispute resolution provisions should not be included in FT As, and that definitions of expropriation and investment must not be overly broad. Furthermore, FTA procurement rules should not prohibit government contracts from requiring that domestic workers provide services or produce goods. We have also called for a broad and explicit carve-out in trade agreements to preserve the ability of federal, state, and local governments to regulate services for the public benefit. Finally, the agricultural provisions of the Peru FT A will likely impose economic hardship on some of the sizeable rural- and poor -population of Peru. The u.s. must find Better ways to negotiate agricultural provisions in trade agreement with developing nations. While the "New Trade Policy" reforms announced by Chairman Rangel on May 101h represent progress in comparison to previously negotiated FT As, they are by no means a 1 See, e.g., US-Peru Free Trade Agreement Labor Advisory Committee Report (Feb. 1,2006), available at www.ustr.gov/assets/Trade_Agreements/Bilateral/PTePrA u/-R eports/asset_upload_fi7le74_ 8979p. df. complete fix appropriate for any country or any situation. Intractable and egregious human rights violations in Colombia and unbalanced market access issues in South Korea put FT As with these two countries in a completely separate -and significantly more problematic -category. The AFL-CIO vigorously opposes the FT As with Colombia and Korea. The challenges facing American workers today are enormous, and the reforms needed in Current trade and domestic policy go beyond what can be addressed in bilateral trade agreements. Eroding wages, growing inequality, a crisis in both health care and retirement security, and constant attacks on the rights of workers to organize all contribute to deep economic insecurity for America's working families, and flawed trade policies have only exacerbated these problems. As amended, the Peru FT A marks an important step toward a trade model that will benefit working people in both countries. Congress will need to provide strong and consistent pressure on the executive branch to ensure that these newly negotiated provisions are effectively implemented and enforced, since these provisions cannot serve their objective if the executive branch does not enforce them. Funding to help build the capacity of workers to exercise their labor rights, and thereby improve their working conditions, is also vitally important. We applaud the considerable efforts that brought about these changes. However, these reforms represent only one aspect of what is wrong with U.S. trade policy. Further work is required to improve the template for future trade agreements, and to ensure that current trade agreements are energetically and consistently enforced. We will continue to fight to strengthen and repair these provisions in any future trade agreements. Furthermore, in order to build a prosperous economy and workforce, we must work Together to address the domestic and international policies that are putting U.S. workers, Businesses and farmers at risk. Legislation that meaningfully addresses currency manipulation, Strengthens our trade laws, eliminates tax incentives for off-shoring, and protects consumers from tainted imports must be acted upon expeditiously. We look forward to working with our allies in Congress to address these challenges. William Samuel, Director DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATION

    In this letter you will see that the AFL-CIO does not support the Peru trade deal, I know it is hard to read but the important words are these:

    “But beyond the labor and environment provisions of the Peru FT A, several issues of concern to working families, particularly with respect to investment, procurement and services, were not adequately addressed. These provisions have important ramifications for our members' jobs and communities, and as a result the AFL-CIO is not in a position to support the Peru FT”

    Gee, I wonder why Earl did not mention that the AFL-CIO did not support this trade deal but uses their words to imply that they did?.

    A few years ago there was a split in the AFL-CIO the new group is called; The Change to Win coalition

    The Change to Win coalition, which includes the Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America announced its opposition to the Peru FTA in letters sent Tuesday to every member of Congress and the Senate.


    Well Earl so much for labor support! You lied to us, stop doing that!

    Edwards puts Peru FTA in play Written by Stumo Monday, 29 October 2007

    John Edwards came out against the Peru Free Trade Agreement, and does it with good analysis


    As for the environmental groups the Earl-man mentioned:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Virginia Cramer 202-675-6279

    May 14 , 2007

    Statement by Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club regarding Trade and Environment Deal It is time for a fundamentally new direction for our trade policy. We commend the Democratic leadership for achieving important environmental progress in the Peru and Panama Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), particularly by requiring enforcement of certain environmental treaties and by addressing trade in illegally-logged timber, especially mahogany. The timber-related provisions can be particularly important for Peru’s Amazon region, one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet and home to thousands of endangered and threatened species.

    While we are encouraged by the progress made on environmental concerns, we will evaluate the entire text of the Peru and Panama FTAs once the agreements are finalized in negotiations to assess their implications for environmental protection. We also strongly believe that environmental protections and protections for worker rights and human rights must go hand-in-hand.

    Indeed, this is just the start of a process to ensure that trade agreements support, rather than undermine, environmental protection. Although last week’s agreement reflects progress on environmental issues in the Peru and Panama FTAs, it is not a sufficient template for trade agreements generally or for presidential trade negotiating authority. FTAs will still provide foreign corporations the right to directly attack public health and environmental measures, and will not fully protect environmental laws from other trade challenges.

    There is much work to be done to achieve the reforms of both substance and process necessary to make U.S. trade policy consistent with sustainable development and environmental protection. We will therefore vigorously oppose any efforts to extend or renew the current model of negotiating authority. President Bush has established the worst environmental record in modern history, particularly on matters of worldwide concern such as global warming. In light of the administration’s six years of inaction on and disregard for pressing environmental concerns, we will examine closely whether it is sincere in moving forward on trade and environmental protection.


    The farmers in Peru will get screwed, our farmers will get screwed, and the middle man once again will make lots of money and Earl will get a nice contribution----if this is a liberal democrat, let me become independent, for after 40 years of working for the dems---I am ashamed of being a liberal democrat!


    If you truly believe that the bush administration is going to enforce labor and environmental agreements between this nation and Peru----meet me on 39th and Hawthorne I want to sell you a few bridges in New York!

    For Justice and Peace,

    Joe Walsh---lone vet

    PS. Come see us outside your office at high noon---Thurs----EVERY THURSDAY

  • Chris (unverified)

    Democrats Missing Chance of A Generation To Have New Vision on Trade by Jonathan Tasini Friday 09 of November, 2007

    [Editor's note: Please don't copy and paste entire articles from other blogs. Provide a link, instead. Even include a relevant paragraph or two. Thank you.]

  • (Show?)

    I generally support Representatives Blumenauer and Hooley on their yes votes on the Peru FTA. I think it is very far from perfect bill, but believe free trade can be a path to a more prosperous and socially just world. But I think I am open to other arguments and ideas.

    Three questions for advocates, if they would like to discuss or explore this issue more (and if anyone is still following this thread).

    First, under the existing Andean Trade Preferences Act approximately 5,600 Peruvian products have duty-free access to the US market. Do these products continue to have duty free access to US market if the Peru FTA is rejected? And would you support the continuation or making permanent the duty-free access of these Peruvian products if the Peru FTA is rejected?

    Two: I have some sympathy for the argument that Stiglitz and Charlton seem to make in their book “Fair Trade for All.” (I’ve not read the book, just this review).

    From the book review by Robert Reich;

    “Richer nations should also help developing nations get a fair share of the benefits of trade, Stiglitz and Charlton write, by reforming themselves. They should no longer protect their own textile producers, subsidize their farmers (the American farm bill of 2002 increased farm payments by some $83 billion over previous bills), shield their maritime and construction industries, or impose fines on poor nations for allegedly "dumping" exports at below-market rates. More broadly, the authors suggest, all nations that have joined the World Trade Organization should make a commitment to giving complete free-market access to all developing countries poorer and smaller than themselves. Finally, richer nations should allow unskilled workers from poorer nations to migrate temporarily, thereby earning money they can send home.”

    The question is do you think the US should give “complete free-market access to all developing countries poorer and smaller than themselves?”

    Three, I infer a general argument from many of the anti-Peru FTA comments. The argument states that either Peru has labor and environmental standards lower than ours or that the FTA will lower such standards below ours in certain areas. And, that, therefore we should not agree to such a trade agreement that has labor or environmental standards lower than ours. This seems to me to be a very high, probably impossible, standard for most developing countries. The only way I can see Peruvian workers having the same labor and environment standards as US workers is to make Peru a US state or possession subject to US federal laws or to permit many Peruvians to legally migrate for work to the US. Would you support either of these options?

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