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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Michaud Opposes Bahrain Free Trade Agreement

Almost a week ago, the House of Representatives passed H.R 4340, the United States - Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Implementation Act. Congressman Michaud voted against the Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act due to his belief that it is a bad policy and also sets a dangerous precedent for future negotiations of such agreements.

"As a mill worker at the Great Northern Paper Company for 30 years, I have seen first-hand the devastation of previous so-called free trade agreements on the US economy. I know what they really mean for working people. The list of jobs lost and companies relocated is almost too long to recite," Michaud said. "While this agreement is slightly better in terms of environmental and labor standards for workers than previous agreements, it still falls far short of reaching our goal for truly fair trade."

The Bahrain FTA is based on the same model as other recent trade agreements that fails to enforce new labor standards, and that does not contribute to the creation of jobs and wages in the U.S. In addition, workers and unions in Bahrain have not been adequately consulted by their government on the provisions contained in the agreement.

"An Arabic translation did not even exist at the time that the Bahrain FTA was considered and approved by the Bahrain Parliament," Michaud said. "That is simply outrageous. We are confronting a record-shattering trade deficit of $617 billion from last year; we have lost more than three million manufacturing jobs since 1998, over 24,000 of those jobs right here in Maine," Michaud said. "The lack of real worker standards in the Bahrain FTA continues the pattern of other recent trade agreements that puts our workers on an uneven playing field. This not only puts jobs at risk, it creates a race to the bottom. It is time to make sure that our trade is not just free, but also fair."

The Senate is expected to consider the Bahrain FTA in the near future.

Source: Magic City Morning Star

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