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Lloyd D.
Democrat TX 35

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  • Conference Report on H.R. 644, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015

    by Representative Lloyd Doggett

    Posted on 2015-12-11

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    Read More about Conference Report on H.R. 644, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015

    DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, this Customs bill fails totally to address a custom that is the custom of the USTR: saying one thing and doing another.

    Were it possible to legislate trust, to legislate candor, to legislate fidelity to public duty, I would be the most enthusiastic supporter this bill could have. Unfortunately, this proposal represents only a very thin, see-through window dressing for a runaway bureaucracy that is pursuing its own multinational corporate agenda and ignoring the public interest.

    The USTR, in its history, has never successfully challenged an environmental abuse. Though the USTR has been charged since February 2009 with preventing trade in illegal logging and in the destruction of Peruvian rain forests, the Environmental Investigation Agency recently reported: ``Illegal logging in Peru and the associated trade remains a serious and unabated problem.'' There has been a ``complete failure to enforce these obligations . . .'' One such obligation is a very simple audit to demonstrate whether logs are being harvested legally or illegally. I have specifically asked the USTR repeatedly to just produce the audit so we can see, and they have refused to provide that documentation or to admit that their enforcement has totally failed to do that simple matter. Meanwhile, coffins with the names of brave Peruvian inspectors are being dragged through the streets.

    The USTR trumpets its environmental successes; yet the Peruvian Government is being rewarded for going backward, not forward, on the environment.

    {time} 1145 USTR has never successfully challenged worker abuses. Almost 8 years after the Administration received a complaint about serious abuses in Guatemala, such as the right to work and join with other workers without being murdered, USTR has not remedied the complaint.

    In Honduras, USTR announced with great fanfare just by coincidence yesterday that, after 3 long years of delay on child labor and other abuses, it had a new plan. Well, it is the same type of plan that failed in Guatemala. We don't need new public relation plans. We need to enforce the law effectively.

    What reason is there conceivably to believe that Vietnam, a country with one union that is only a branch of the Communist Party, will somehow fulfill its trade obligations under the Trans-Pacific Partnership for a complete overhaul of its system when it takes the Administration almost 8 years to address Guatemala labor concerns? More likely, we will simply be joining another race to the bottom with a 60- cent-per-hour Vietnamese wage.

    Just as it lacked the will to enforce environmental and working conditions, USTR prioritized trade even when that meant excusing modern-day slave trade in corrupt Malaysia. The bureaucratic manipulation and indifference to human trafficking in Asia is disgraceful.

    The only thing that is transparent about USTR is the ease of seeing through its propaganda. Certainly, I am very concerned about climate change, but the real climate that needs changing when it comes to our trade policy is the climate of indifference and secrecy at USTR.

    I ask that you vote against this bill in order to develop a true pro- trade, 21st-century American policy that reflects our basic American values and protects our jobs.

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