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What's Wrong with the Peru Free Trade Agreement?
Posted on: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Peru Free Trade Agreement will:
THREATEN SMALL FARMERS. The agreement will favor only a small sector of Peruvian farmers who export to the US. By lowering Peru's tariffs on agricultural products, the vast majority of farmers would be vulnerable to cheap subsidized imports from the U.S. This would wipe out local farmers as happened to the 1.3 million who have been displaced in Mexico since NAFTA passed 12 years ago.
THREATEN ACCESS TO LIFE-SAVING MEDICINES. While the amended text of the Peru FTA removes the most egregious, CAFTA-based, provisions limiting the access to affordable medicines, it still includes NAFTA provisions that undermine the right to affordable medicines for poorer countries.
THREATEN WORKERS. Changes to the labor provisions are insufficient. The Peru FTA allows discretion for FTA dispute settlement panels to interpret and apply the terms of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work differently than the Declaration has been interpreted and applied by the ILO itself. Enforcement of the new changes will be dependent on the Peruvian Executive Branch that has a consistent record of undermining domestic labor.
THREATEN THE AMAZON. The Peruvian Amazon rainforest is already under attack by oil, gas, timber, mining, and corporate agribusiness. Investor rules under the free trade agreement will allow corporations to sue the Peruvian government when enforcement of environmental laws results in lost corporate profits. By contrast, environmental groups are not granted the right to sue corporations in international tribunals for violating multi-lateral environmental agreements only the anti-environmental Bush administration will have that power. New rules
THREATEN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES by opening the way for large pharmaceutical and agribusiness corporations to patent traditional knowledge, seeds, and life forms. This opens the door to bio-piracy of the Andean-Amazon region and threatens the ecological, medicinal and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples. Oil corporations like Occidental Petroleum have a devastating history of polluting the lands of indigenous communities and will be able to use the new investor rights provisions of the agreement to continue their practices with impunity.
THREATEN WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND THE POOR. Provisions promoting the privatization and deregulation of essential services such as water, healthcare and education are written into this trade agreement. As these services become less accessible, women and the poor would have to make up for increases in prices of these services.
THREATEN FARM ANIMAL WELFARE, FOOD SAFETY, AND DRINKING WATER. As family farms are displaced, the US will flood the Peruvian market with animal products produced in inhumane, polluting, unsanitary factory farms. Factory farming is also likely to increase in Peru with contamination of drinking water a likely outcome. Under the free trade agreement, Peru will be forced to lift its ban on the import of US poultry products suspected of spreading avian influenza.
THREATEN U.S. AND PERUVIAN SOVEREIGNTY. The Peru FTA contains a NAFTA-style foreign investor chapter that allows corporations to bring actions against governments that pass environmental and public health laws that might reduce corporate profits
THREATEN WILDLIFE. Rainforest logging in Peru is associated with mass scale hunting of rainforest wildlife by logging personnel, causing the extermination of entire populations of large mammals. New logging projects encouraged by the agreement's investment rules will exacerbate this problem. The investment rules will also encourage by increased development along coastlines, threatening sea turles.