[mgj-discuss] CAFTA protest clarification--no picket on tuesday.
Plus, update on status of this 'final round'
levy-listsonly at cox.net
Fri Dec 5 19:26:53 EST 2003
revised version of call to action at bottom of this email, if you haven't forwarded the other one to *all* the listservs you're on yet! it was a bit unclear on what is happening tuesday. there is NO picket at lunchtime. the action on that day will be at 9 am.
and thanks to timi gerson (public citizen) for digging up the following.
Inside US Trade
Next U.S.-CAFTA Round Could Determine Implementation Date
Date: December 5, 2003
An intense round of negotiations on a free-trade agreement between the U.S. and five Central American countries (CAFTA) beginning next week could be critical in determining whether it can be considered by Congress in 2004, industry and government sources said.
An Administration official conceded that if negotiators are unable to conclude the talks between the U.S., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua this month, it is doubtful that the agreement could be completed in time to be presented to Congress next year. This would mean delaying implementation of the agreement beyond 2005, the official said.
An industry source said this is likely due to the U.S. being squeezed for time because of its desire to dock the Dominican Republic into the CAFTA, and to have the entire agreement be considered by Congress safely in advance of the 2004 elections. The timing of the docking is complicated by the fact that the U.S. has planned to begin market access negotiations with the Dominican Republic in January, but does not want to begin these talks until negotiations with the CAFTA countries are completed. This is because the Dominican Republic is set to adopt separate market access rules while adopting the bulk of the provisions negotiated by the other five countries.
Assuming the Central American talks conclude this month and the Dominican Republic market access negotiations conclude on schedule in March, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is then required under last year's fast-track negotiating authority to give Congress at least 90-days notice before it signs an agreement. Consequently, the agreement would not be ready for Congressional action until at least June 2004.
One Senate aide warned that the difficulty of securing passage of the agreement increases the closer any vote comes to next year's presidential elections, but a Republican Senate aide downplayed the importance of the presidential elections for the approval of the CAFTA. It is a factor, but not the overriding one in determining the timing of the vote, he said.
"I don't think the election year dynamic in itself will preclude us from bringing the agreement up," the aide said. He predicted that Congress could consider the FTA with the five Central American nations and a separate FTA with Morocco by mid-summer 2004.
The CAFTA vote is expected to be close in the Senate and House because of opposition from Democrats to the way the Administration wants to shape the agreement's labor and environment provisions. There is also opposition from some Republicans because the FTA is expected to offer Central American countries increased market access for textiles and agriculture products.
But the GOP aide said if the agreement is a quality agreement that can be sold on its economic benefits, he was confident it could pass in an election year. He also noted that Congress has had tough trade votes near elections in the past, such as the fast-track votes in late July 2002.
The last round of talks begins with technical level talks Dec. 8-12, according to a Central American official, during which chief negotiators will be on hand to intervene if necessary. Trade ministers will then meet on Dec. 12 to assess the status of talks and to provide a mandate for negotiators to continue talks Dec. 13-14, the source said. Ministers would meet again on Dec. 15, with talks set to end on Dec. 16.
These talks initially had been scheduled to end on Dec. 12, but negotiators agreed to extend the deadline at the last formal round of negotiations in Houston in October.
Negotiators next week will be faced with resolving the fight over how to handle market access for sugar exports to the U.S. from Central America, which seem to have shifted from the volume of access the Central American producers will be granted to discussions on how a new tariff-rate quota established for sugar would be allocated.
The U.S. has offered the Central American's a sugar TRQ consisting of roughly 133,000 metric tons of immediate market access for raw sugar according to sources. That number is little more than the 126,365 metric tons currently allocated to the region under a Uruguay Round TRQ.
*******SPREAD FAR AND WIDE***********
Everyone in the greater DC area! The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is Coming To Washington DC December 8th-16th! Below you will find a list of all the planned actions planned during the week by various local groups. For more background on CAFTA see the bottom of this e-mail. First
the logistics: The CAFTA negotiations are happening at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington DC. The address is 1127 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC, at the corner of Connecticut and L.
Sunday Dec. 7th 10:30am
Sign Making party at Malcolm X Park
16th and Euclid NW
(Columbia Heights Metro Station Green Line)
Bring supplies if you have them to donate!
Central America is Not For Sale!
Rally against the FTAA and CAFTA
SAVE THE DATE: Washington, DC December 7, 12-2:00 Malcolm X (Meridian) Park, 16th and Euclid NW
The rally is at 12:00 noon and the march starts at 2:00
(Columbia Heights Metro Station Green Line)
Get involved - help with outreach - e-mail Dave Johnson at Share Foundation - dave at share-foundation.org, or Tom Ricker with the Quixote Center, tomr at quixote.org
ANTI-CAFTA AIR FORCE AND NOISE ACTION
When: Tuesday, 9AM December 9th
What: Protest CAFTA talks
Where: Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC, at the corner of Connecticut and L.
Bring your noisemakers and your paper airplanes! Come on out and let em know loud and clear how you feel about CAFTA!
ALL WEEK LONG! DAILY PICKETS OUTSIDE THE HOTEL FROM 12-1
Each day of the week a different group will be coordinating a picket in front of the Mayflower. What do you need to do to participate? Just show up! Its that easy. Come with signs, songs, banners, puppets and spirit.
Meet everyday in front of the hotel on the Connecticut side at Noon. For more info, if you have ideas, or want to offer to help get in touch with: e- mail Dave Johnson at Share Foundation - dave at share-foundation.org, or Tom Ricker with the Quixote Center, tomr at quixote.org
Monday: Mobilize for Global Justice will have puppets and banners. If you would like to help get in touch with morriganp at riseup.net
Tuesday: Noise action (see above--NO lunchtime picket tuesday)
Wednesday: Nicaragua Network
There is also an official CAFTA press conference at noon at the hotel!
Friday: Witness for Peace
Saturday: Quixote Center
CAFTA is a trade agreement being negotiated by government representatives from United States and the Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. It is modeled after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). U.S. President Bush has voiced his support for CAFTA and hopes to have an agreement sealed as quickly as possible, in part to move the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations forward faster. CAFTA is NAFTA Extended to Central America All the same issues human and labor rights organizations have with NAFTA (and FTAA) are present in CAFTA, including:
Secrecy Instead of Transparency: No formal public input or oversight in the negotiations.
Corporate Domination Over Democracy: At the expense of democracy and people's right to self-rule, CAFTA would likely give corporations powers to object to barriers to free trade, including laws people enact for their own protection. For example, NAFTA established the right for companies to sue governments over public-interest laws that may limit their profits. This right has been employed 27 times by companies since 1994.
Increased Inequality: A minority of rich companies and wealthy stockholders will benefit from reduced costs. The poor will get poorer and more people will move into poverty: workers will get lower pay and lose their jobs while shouldering higher costs of living as more services are privatized.
Disappearing Public Services: Resources such as education, health care, energy, and water utilities owned by everyone in a community will more likely become owned by corporations. This could put essential public services out of the hands of many people. For example, When Bolivia privatized its water utility, water rates increased 200 percent, leading to riots that resulted in six deaths.
Reduced Labor Rights: Labor laws such as those that protest worker's safety can also be challenged and the "race to the bottom" for pay will likely hurt workers in all countries involved in CAFTA.
Negative Agricultural Impact: Increased corporate domination of farms and possible devastation of family farms and farmers in the US and Central America.
Environmental Destruction: Environmental laws are just one types of barriers to trade that can be gutted. This decreases costs to companies but increases costs to local communities which suffer more health problems as a result of pollution
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