Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



TRADE Act Proposed

The Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act, TRADE Act, H.R. 3012, mandates review of all international trade agreements currently in force, establishes new standards and requirements for future trade agreements, requires new labor standards and imposes higher congressional oversight authority for all such agreements.

Core labor standards are defined as freedom of association, right to collective bargaining, elimination of all child and forced labor, and discrimination based on employment and association. Fundamental human rights are those defined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Major U.S. trading partners is defined as Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the U.K. Trade agreements are defined as NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, and Jordan-US FTA and the Uruguay Round Agreements.

A report is mandated on the topic of job losses and gains arising from trade agreements by, among other issues state, industry and year, including the top ten companies which gained and lost jobs, along with wage level changes. Trading partners are also to be evaluated based upon how well they comply with the customs laws of the U.S., the timely payment of duties due in the U.S., meeting food and product safety standards, complying with prohibitions against transshipment, and enforcement of trade agreements, including dumping, subsidies and circumvention.

Also to be considered are the effects on the retail price of pharmaceuticals, privatization of public sector services including services such as health care, electricity, gas, water, telephone services and other utilities. The impact of government procurement on goods and services and the assessment of currency movements.

As to trade partner countries, the factors to be evaluated are: democratic form of government, core labor rights, fundamental human rights, religious freedom, combating and prevention of private and public corruption, multilateral environmental agreements, protection of intellectual property rights, government transparency, and whether the country poses a threat to national security.

The Act also mandates that future trade agreements are to include labor, human rights, environmental and public safety, procurement, agriculture, and food and product health and safety standards, plus services, investment, and dispute resolution and enforcement provisions, as well as technical standards, protection of intellectual property rights, trade remedies and safeguards, along with exceptions for national security and equalization of duty rates. Each existing trade agreement is to be renegotiated in accord with these standards. As noted above, there is also a new structure proposed for greater Congressional oversight.

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