NETWORK strongly supports the TRADE Act as a way forward for trade. For too long, global trade has benefited corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the poor. The TRADE Act would reverse this trend and set new benchmarks for trade. By ensuring that our trade agreements live up to the high standards of the TRADE Act, we guarantee that our trade policies help workers, farmers, and impoverished people here and abroad.
Introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) and in the Senate by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the TRADE Act would make four major steps toward a more just trade model. It would:
1. Evaluate existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
The TRADE Act would require a public report to assess standing trade agreements’ impacts on employment and wage levels, access to healthcare and water, cost of essential medicines, and compliance with labor and environmental standards, among other criteria. We need to know how our trade arrangements are serving citizens here and in our trading partner nations.
2. Renegotiate existing FTAs.
The texts of existing trade agreements (including NAFTA, CAFTA, and others) would have to be transformed to meet certain requirements. For example, they would have to:
Allow governments to use tariffs and other mechanisms to protect small-scale farmers against imported goods selling at below-market price
Eliminate the investor-state dispute resolution process
- Require governments to enforce labor, environmental, and human rights standards
- Revamp any intellectual property provisions that tend to increase the cost of essential medicines in signatory countries
- Remove requirements to privatize or deregulate services such as healthcare, education, or water.
Our trade agreements should meet these high standards to ensure that they protect workers, the environment, small-holder farmers, and the poorest of the poor in developing countries.
3. Impose moratorium and standards for future FTAs.
The TRADE Act stipulates that no new trade agreements would be allowed until the President submitted a plan for renegotiating existing FTAs. After that, any new agreements would have to meet the same standards as the existing deals.
4. Abolish “Fast Track” authority.
In the past, Congress has granted the president what is called “Trade Promotion Authority,” or “Fast Track” authority, which restricts Congress to only a yes-or-no vote on new trade agreements (i.e., no amendments are allowed, debate is limited). Fast Track last expired at the end of 2007. The TRADE Act would discard this anti-democratic process. Debate in Congress is how We the People get to have our say on trade agreements.
Click here  to read the text of H.R. 3012, the TRADE Act.