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NC Senators say NO to Oman FTA

Reversing themselves from their positions on CAFTA, NC Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr voted against the Oman FTA yesterday. 

Allowing Oman to bring in Chinese made fabric to be stitched together by an imported workforce of indentured servants and then ship the sweat shop goods duty free to the US apparently did not sound to our Senators like a good deal for North Carolina.

The bill passed the senate 60-34 and now moves to the house where the real battle will be.  Contact your Congressmen and tell them they must see that this sham trade agreement is not passed.

Rather than  provide you with the "attack on US sovereignty" ravings of the State Coordinator of the John Birch Society, I'll offer those of Lori Wallach from Public Citizen:

At issue is a provision in an annex to the services and investment chapters of the U.S.-Oman deal, making clear that U.S. commitments cover certain "landside aspects of port activities." Those include the loading and unloading of vessels, stevedoring, and operation of maintenance of piers.  That specific provision was also part of CAFTA, the U.S.-Bahrain free trade agreement and other agreements, but was not a part of the U.S.-Singapore free trade agreement.

According to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, that means that in the case of a U.S. decision to deny investment rights in port operations to an Omani firm, Oman would be able to challenge such a decision in a dispute settlement proceeding.

Also, the firm itself would have standing to seek compensation in its own challenge before an investor rights tribunal.  All U.S. commitments in trade agreements are covered by an exception for national security.   But Wallach said even if a tribunal ultimately sided with the United States, the nation would be stuck with litigation costs and could even be required to hand over sensitive security information to foreign members of the tribunal to justify its decision.

"Instead of -- best case scenario -- having to expose U.S. intelligence information to FTA tribunalists to obtain an Essential Security exception excuse to violate the FTA, why wouldn't Congress insist that the provisions limiting Congress' national security related authority are just snipped out?" Wallach wrote in a memo.

If you look further into this deal it smells alot like the one put together by Jack Abramoff for his co-conspirators in Saipan.  The promise of Oman to drop its participation of the Arab League economic boycott of Israel in exchange for inking this deal is also likely to be just as worthless as the one given by Bahrain.  The Bahrain FTA was passed quietly in December.  And, shock, Bahrain still has not lifted its boycott. 

The utter arrogance of Team Bush will be their downfall on this one.  We are looking to make the Oman FTA the first trade agreement to go down to defeat in the Congress in over 40 years.

9:40:15 AM      comment []

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