On Thursday, May 10, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a new bipartisan trade policy that will facilitate passage of the Panama and Peru FTAs, and possibly support the renewal of Fast Track before it expires at the end of June.
The new trade policy, announced May 10, includes promising language on labor rights including calling for the recognition and enforcement of 1998 International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards as part of all future agreements as well as stipulating that the labor standards of trading partners cannot be lowered. Yet, specific details are not yet known and there is concern that while the language is good, the mechanisms are weak.
WOLA cautiously applauds the progress of protecting labor rights in trade agreements but remains very concerned that the new policy fails to include language that will protect small to medium producers in the rural sector. If passed, the FTA will require that Peru cut tariffs and open up its markets to basic agricultural goods, immediately impacting 1.7 million Peruvian farmers. WOLA has long argued that free trade is not the development strategy that Latin America needs.The failure of the bipartisan trade deal to mention agriculture contradicts congressional concern to reduce poverty and inequality in Latin America.
WOLA is waiting to read the fine print of the new trade deal before issuing a statement.
A summary of a “New Trade Policy for America” is available here.