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Trade State & Local Governance: Action

State officials are taking action to safeguard state sovereignty in trade. Below are some of the recent highlights. To find out what you can do in your state, please contact Ryan Harvey.


State legislators, who are authorized with setting procurement policy in the state, have been active in weighing in with governors. Since 2005, three state legislatures have taken the extra step of clarifying the legal procedure at the state level regarding trade agreements’ procurement provisions. Maryland, Rhode Island and Hawaii have all passed laws that ensure the power to sign up to the procurement terms of any trade agreement rests exclusively with the state legislature.

Fast Track

Fast Track expired on June 30, 2007 thanks in part to states’ demands to replace the outdated trade negotiating mechanism. Over a dozen resolutions opposing Fast Track passed in 2007.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Alarmed at the role the WTO’s GATS has already had in accelerating the offshoring of service-sector jobs and worried about the problems the agreement could pose for quality health care and higher education, four state governors took decisive action in 2006 to safeguard their states from the worst aspects of the GATS. Governors Baldacci of Maine, Kulongoski of Oregon, Granholm of Michigan and Vilsack of Iowa wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) demanding that their states be carved out of prior and future U.S. GATS commitments. Additionally, state Attorneys General, governors and organizations have written to the USTR expressing their concern over many service sector negotiations, including domestic regulations negotiations, gambling and higher education.

Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)

During the CAFTA fight, a bi-partisan group of governors from eight states (Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon and Kansas) withdrew their initial agreement to bind their states to comply with the government procurement rules in CAFTA. Many other governors simply avoided binding their states to CAFTA’s procurement rules in the first place. The Maryland General Assembly even passed legislation over the governor’s veto withdrawing the state’s consent, and establishing that the legislature must approve all requests for the state to sign on to international trade agreement terms. All told, upon passage of CAFTA, only 19 U.S.states consented to the agreement’s restrictive procurement provisions.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Under NAFTA’s Chapter 11, corporations can use closed trade tribunals to privately enforce an extreme set of investor rights by directly suing the United States over the actions of state or local governments which restrict the profitability of their investments. NAFTA has already generated “regulatory takings” cases against land use decisions, environmental and public health policies, and adverse court rulings that would not have been possible in U.S. courts. Many state legislators, Attorneys General and organizations around the country have voiced their opposition to NAFTA’s Chapter 11.