By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
The items below are minimum necessary changes to the texts of the Bush-signed “free trade” agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia and Korea. These changes must be made so as to remove the pacts’ most extreme conflicts with Democrats’ domestic agenda. Because these agreements have already been signed, this list of changes does not describe a good trade pact, but rather what is necessary to neutralize the worst NAFTA/CAFTA terms that these Bush-negotiated FTAs replicate – often word-for-word. Only renegotiation can deliver these fixes.
Meanwhile, even a perfect FTA with Colombia is unacceptable until that nation demonstrates it can protect human and labor rights and until unionist assassinations halt over a sustained period. As well, an FTA with Panama must be conditioned on the country’s government eliminating excessive banking secrecy, re-regulating its financial sector, forcing banks and multinational subsidiaries to pay taxes, and signing international tax transparency treaties such as the U.S. Tax Information Exchange Agreement and the standard U.S. double taxation / fiscal evasion treaty – which Panama has thus far refused to do.