Special interests win with Peru and Panama FTAs

Yesterday, the Administration and the Democratic leadership made a deal to inject stringent and enforceable labor standards into bilateral agreements with Peru and Panama, which have been signed but need to be ratified by Congress.

Orchestrated by US labor unions the inclusion of more extensive labor mandates was pushed by chairman and ranking members of key House and Senate Committees — House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committees.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who helped broker the deal for the Administration, said that the agreement represents “a bipartisan consensus on trade” and is a “new trade policy template” in a statement on the USTR website:

Today we have seized an historic opportunity to restore the bipartisan consensus on trade with a clear and reasonable path forward for congressional consideration of Free Trade Agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and Korea. The new trade policy template also opens the way for bipartisan work on Trade Promotion Authority. This will ensure the creation of new economic opportunities for American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, service providers, more choices for consumers, and help guarantee that the benefits of trade extend to all people.

It’s expected that more stringent environmental mandates will be part of the new deal as well. Meanwhile, the trade pact with Colombia is likely to languish; the AFL-CIO’s legislative policy director was quoted as saying that “she could envision no scenario that would win labor’s approval for a trade deal with Colombia.”

Free trade takes another blow from special interests. Review what labor and environmental activists already have inserted in previous FTAs and CEI comments and analysis on those.