Economics for the Earth Blog

President Obama Promotes Damaging Bush-era Trade Deal

Posted Dec. 7, 2010 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

For Immediate Release
December 3, 2010

Contact:
Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722 (office), 717-439-0346 (cell), ktrout@foe.org
Michelle Chan, 415-544-0790 x. 214, mchan@foe.org
 
President Obama Promotes Damaging Bush-era Trade Deal


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Obama administration announced today that it has concluded negotiations on the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement, one of the NAFTA-style trade deals left over from the Bush administration.  

The Korea trade pact replicates some of the worst aspects of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), providing foreign investors the right to challenge U.S. public health and environmental regulations that could put a dent in their current or expected profits. Like NAFTA, the agreement would also allow South Korean companies to challenge U.S. environmental laws in secret, unaccountable trade tribunals that completely bypass the U.S. judicial system.

The Obama administration's move flies in the face of clear opposition from the American public to environmentally harmful, job-killing NAFTA-style trade agreements -- opposition that has been confirmed by recent polls and the results of last month's elections. Over the summer, more than 100 members of Congress urged President Obama to fix critical aspects of the Korea trade agreement, particularly provisions that "benefit multi-national corporations at the expense of small business and workers."

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, had the following statement:

“Despite small tweaks negotiated in recent months, the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement replicates failed Bush-era trade policies that hurt jobs and the environment. President Obama’s endorsement of another NAFTA-style deal runs counter to the change that candidate Obama promised.

“President Obama had a chance to usher in a new era of trade policy and he has failed the first test. We need fair trade deals that hold foreign companies accountable to our laws and benefit workers, public health and the environment. Unfortunately, President Obama has not only backtracked on his pledge, but has also blown this leadership opportunity.”

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