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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 97 09:32:35 CDT
From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org>
Subject: Fast-Track pushing Labor/Environment matters into WTO hands.
Organization: ?
Article: 18573

Fast-Track pushes labor, environment linkage into WTO hands

From Michael Papandopoulous, 24 September 1997

The Clinton Administration submitted its proposal for fast-track negotiating authority September 16, including provisions that only labor and environment measures "directly related to trade" be included in future trade agreements. The Administration had previously made promises to pursue a broader labor and environment linkage within fast-track. To do so in the current proposal would have meant certain death within Congress, where the Republican majority strongly opposes such a linkage.

The Clinton Administration did not entirely abandon labor and environment issues, however. The fast-track proposal would make it a "principal negotiating objective" to utilize the WTO to "promote respect for internationally recognized workers' rights, including with regard to child labor." The Administration will also urge the WTO to reconsider the relationship between labor rights and WTO rules, and push for the WTO to adopt the principle that denial of workers' rights should not be a means of competitive advantage for a country. This move is certain to be controversial with developing countries, which lobbied forcefully for the WTO to keep its distance from labor issues.

The Administration's proposal also calls for the U.S. to push for an enhanced role for the WTO's Committee on Trade and the Environment as a means for linking trade and the environment. In addition, the Administration's bill would require that trade officials consider "domestic objectives including, but not limited to, the protection of health or safety, essential security, environmental, consumer or employment opportunity interests," when negotiating trade agreements.

The bill also calls for negotiations for a free trade agreement with Chile to be included under fast-track, as it seeks to expand the North American Free Trade Agreement. Fast-track authority will allow the Administration to present trade agreements to Congress for a vote without amendment. The U.S. has been stalled in its efforts to negotiate an agreement with Chile while the Clinton Administration has been without fast-track: Chile will not negotiate without it, and has meanwhile pursued bilateral agreements with Mexico, Canada and the EU.

"Clinton submits scaled-back trade bill," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, September 17,1997;

"Clinton Fast-Track bill limits scope of labor, environment rules," INSIDE U.S. TRADE, September 19, 1997;

"Consideracion especial a Chile en 'Fast Track," EL MERCURIO (Chile).