Worried that the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement will include little bombs that will explode in the faces of local, state and federal governments, the San Diego WTO Alert organization plans to ask the City Council to pass a resolution urging members of Congress to read FTAA fine print before they approve it.
The catalyst for the resolution push was the Trade Promotion Authority bill, also known as “fast track,” which last month flew through Congress, quite literally, at the urging of President Bush.
Fast track gives the President the ability to negotiate international trade agreements without allowing Congress to amend specific provisions. Fast track opponents, among other things, are concerned about a repeat of NAFTA's Chapter 11, which allows a company to sue a government body for any little thing that affects their bottom line.
The resolution the San Diego WTO Alert wants the City Council to sign was authored by the National League of Cities and encourages Congress to reject FTAA if it includes such provisions.
San Diego WTO Alert member Herb Shore said that the group is in the process of gauging City Council support, and so far it seems council members Donna Frye and George Stephens are in their corner; Ralph Inzunza has proved a good listener. As for the others, only time will tell. Given the potential negative impact FTAA might have on Mexico's environment and working-poor population, Shore thinks the council should sign the resolution.
“People think that what [FTAA] amounts to is lowering trade barriers,” Shore said, “[and that] by having trade we're helping to create a middle class in Mexico. And if the size of the middle class in Mexico increases, they will want to buy things in the U.S. It's the kind of notion that would make sense if the U.S. and Mexico were developed countries and on equal footing.
“But the two countries are at such an unequal level of development that it doesn't make sense to me.”