NAM Letter Does a Disservice to Continuing Trade Negotiations

Apr 19, 2007
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) issued the following response to a recent letter and press release on trade policy issued by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM):

 “This letter is a gross distortion of the facts that does a disservice to the continuing effort to reach a bipartisan consensus on the future of trade policy. I am astounded that NAM would go to such lengths to jeopardize the hard work of so many in Congress and the Administration who are negotiating these issues.

“The United States signed onto the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration in 1998 and we have simply asked that future trade agreements include these standards. We are not seeking to raise the bar and incorporate the ILO conventions, but the Declaration we have already signed – this is a critical distinction.

“There is nothing in the policy outline we’ve delivered or the discussions we’ve had to suggest for a minute that we would yield sovereignty.

“If outside groups are serious in their desire to shape and support future trade policies, they need to understand that it does not help at all to issue press releases distorting the facts and misrepresenting the views of those negotiating the policy.”

Inaccuracies in the NAM letter:

  • The Democratic Proposal would obligate countries to adhere to the five basic internationally-recognized labor standards, as stated in the 1998 ILO Declaration, and not to the ILO Conventions on labor standards. The United States is already obligated to adhere to the 1998 ILO Declaration, and has restated its commitment to the 1998 Declaration in every FTA concluded since 1998.
  • Under the Democratic Proposal, only governments can challenge compliance with an FTA. Therefore, Governor Engler’s citation of the Mexican union complaint is erroneous.
  • Under the Democratic Proposal, labor issues are subject to challenge only in the specific case where there is an impact on trade between the two nations. Therefore, Governor Engler’s example of state limitations on strikes by public sector employees is also erroneous.