WASHINGTON, D.C. - Marking the ten-year anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO) demonstrations in Seattle and this week's WTO ministerial in Geneva, Switzerland, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that he will reintroduce the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment (TRADE) Act. Brown, who attended the 1999 demonstrations, first introduced the TRADE Act in 2008.
The legislation would revamp U.S. trade policy by mandating trade pact reviews, establishing higher standards, protecting workers in developing nations, and restoring Congressional oversight of future trade agreements.
"We want trade and we want more of it. But, we need a new direction, "Brown said. "Done wrong, trade sends our jobs overseas. Done right, trade can foster new business and job growth at home, and can lift up workers in developing nations. The TRADE ACT will help Congress and the White House craft a trade policy that benefits workers, business owners, and our nation."
Brown was joined in Cleveland by Mark Grenakis, President USW 979; Maria Wilkinson, Americans for Democratic Action Northeast Ohio; Rev. Tony Minor, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry; Vickie Kujampaa, displaced GE worker (IUE-CWA Local 84707); Tina Vazquez, Workers United President, Local 168C, Hugo Boss employee; and Karen Hansen, Ohio Conference on Fair Trade State Coordinator.
Brown, who led the bipartisan House opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), was also joined by Cleveland Jobs with Justice coalition partners including Harriet Applegate, Exec. Sec., North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor; Susan Brown, Political Coordinator, Ohio State Council, Workers United; Elizabeth Pangrace, Coordinator, Cleveland Jobs with Justice; Brian Stefan-Szittai, Program Coordinator, Interreligious Task Force on Central America.
Ohio has experienced 20,912 trade related job losses in the last two years and nearly 40,000 trade related job losses in the last four years.
"For too long our nation's trade policy has exploited workers, betrayed middle class families, and destroyed communities," Brown said. It is time for a trade policy that works for everyone, not just a few."
The TRADE ACT would:
• Require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a comprehensive review of existing trade agreements with an emphasis on economic results, enforcement and compliance, and an analysis of non-tariff provisions in trade agreements;
• Spell out standards for labor and environmental protections, food and product safety, national security exceptions, and remedies that must be included in new trade pacts;
• Set requirements with respect to public services, farm policy, investment, government procurement, and affordable medicines that have been incorporated in trade agreements;
• Require the president to submit renegotiation plans for current trade pacts prior to negotiating new agreements and prior to congressional consideration of pending agreements; and
• Restore Congressional oversight of trade agreements.