Washington, D.C. - Congressman Brad Sherman said Tuesday that a proposed trade treaty with Central American nations and the Dominican Republic would cost American jobs, fail to protect foreign workers, harm the environment, and cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.
Sherman was among a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement who were joined at a Capitol Hill rally by representatives from religious, business, labor, environmental and human rights organizations.
With a close House vote scheduled later this week, he urged the news media to investigate how the Bush administration is wooing members of Congress to vote for the agreement. “Take a look at the lobbying that’s going on on CAFTA,” Sherman told reporters at the rally. “Explain to Americans that this is not just bad trade policy, it is bad government.”
The pact would increase access to U.S. markets for textiles, sugar and other industries. It would follow in the failed footsteps of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Sherman said has cost America manufacturing jobs, hurt the value of the dollar and put upward pressure on interest rates. “We are here to put the brakes on a process designed to lead to the hemisphere-wide expansion of the failure that is NAFTA,” Sherman said.
A fair trade treaty could promote economic growth at home and improve the lives of poor workers in developing countries, Sherman said. But this agreement fails to protect the rights of working people in a region where young workers labor long hours in hazardous conditions for poverty-level wages.
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the agreement would cost taxpayers about $4.4 billion over the next 10 years. In addition to the Dominican Republic, the agreement would cover trade relations between the United States and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.