Mr. BRADY of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time and the ability to subdivide as necessary to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Crane), chairman of the Trade Subcommittee and one of the leading voices of trade in Congress.
Mr. ENGLISH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, as we have studied this treaty, and as I have talked to people in northwestern Pennsylvania who have had an interest in the results of this trade agreement, I have heard concerns regarding the so-called integrated sourcing initiative. Is it true that this provision can be used to openly transship products from China to the United States duty free?
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, the short answer can be quickly dealt with, but I think a longer one is necessary for people to fully appreciate.
The integrated sourcing initiative, or the ISI, the products on this list currently have no duty or restrictions when they enter the United States, regardless of where they come from or what country they pass through. The Singapore agreement identifies these goods and deems them to be of Singaporean origin for certain carefully delineated, limited purposes when they do move through Singapore for the administrative convenience of businesses and our own Customs Service. However, they are still
considered of third-country origin for purposes of applying the global safeguard.
Many people are alarmed by, I think, the word ``transshipment,'' because they think it would be an illegal movement or smuggling of goods. But that is simply not true here. These are legal goods that under current law can enter the U.S. without restriction. In this case, the Chinese goods on the ISI list could come directly to the United States without duty or restriction currently. So what difference does it make if it goes through Singapore or any number of other countries along the way?
I have heard concerns from Members about the nature and impact of this provision. As a result, I think it is prudent to ask the International Trade Commission to monitor Singapore trade in certain ISI goods and associated downstream products. If there is a significant change in the level of trade, the commission then will be asked to investigate further and report to us.
Frankly, I do not anticipate significant changes in trade in these goods as a result of the ISI provisions, but I do not think it does any harm to monitor it either. This provision makes it marginally easier on businesses, but I do not believe enough to change trade flows very much. But I want to underscore, notwithstanding that, I think it is prudent to monitor.
Mr. ENGLISH. Mr. Speaker, that is most reassuring.
On another point, if the gentleman will continue to yield, reading the proposal that is before us, can the administration add products to the ISI list as it sees fit without congressional approval and oversight?
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, in the measure before us the very short and direct answer is ``no.'' Whatever may have occurred in the process of developing this legislation or whatever was a desired result really is the past.
The measure in front of us says the list that is in this bill is the list, period. If Congress wants to address it, if Congress wants to expand or shrink the list, that is within the congressional prerogative. No other group, administration or otherwise, can change the list. Of course, the administration could be offering a proposal to Congress to consider, but it will be Congress' decision to modify the list that is in front of us in this bill.
Mr. ENGLISH. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will again yield, I want to thank the chairman for clarifying these points. Let me say that having participated in the process of vetting these two treaties, I believe they have been examined with a fine degree of concern, particularly for their impact on the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
I feel very strongly that what we have here is the best kind of treaty that we can have to expand our economy, open up markets, and allow for trade on a very fair and balanced basis, with transparency and provisions that are very clearly enforceable.
So I want to thank the gentleman for his comments and add my voice to the long list of those who are urging that these two agreements be passed to create opportunities, to create good-paying American jobs, and to promote healthy trade relationships with two of our better trading partners.
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Speaker, I want to make it perfectly clear that although that list of items is contained in this bill, which is being handled under the trade promotion authority, the so-called fast track with no amendments, if the administration or a Member introduced a piece of legislation which was to expand or contract that list, it would not be handled under the trade promotion structure; it would be handled as an ordinary piece of legislation, open to amendment and modification.
Mr. ENGLISH. Mr. Speaker, I recognize that as a very important parting shot, because that provides, I think, a greater level of protection and transparency by requiring any changes go through congressional oversight and the full legislative process.
I thank the gentleman for his points of clarification.
Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I rise to question these agreements, reluctant in support, not because my interest in expanding international commerce has waned over the years, but reluctant because of this Administration's consistent refusal to support a balanced, bipartisan trade policy.
Like most of its foreign policy, the Administration's guiding principle is not moderation, but arrogance. It pursues go-it-alone, one-on-one trade deals like these instead of reforming the structure that would promote more multilateral world trade.
These agreements perhaps represent a perfect fit for this Administration, whose approach toward environmental protection and worker rights ranges from conscious indifference to open hostility, an Administration that apparently views a few attacks on health and safety laws by a foreign multinational investor trading partner as more of a help than a hindrance. [Page: H7499]
All the hullabaloo that we heard this morning about these agreements is more symbolic than it is real. The economic impact of these agreements is minuscule: less than one-hundredth percent of our gross domestic product for Singapore and less than five-hundredths for Chile. Not much to crow about for an Administration whose trade policy has followed rather crooked twists and turns.
Its enthusiasm for giant subsidies to giant agribusiness corporations impedes and distorts our efforts to expand world commerce. It cannot even permit trading catfish without demanding that the catfish be called something other than ``catfish.''
And, of course, this very day, efforts are under way to deny seniors in America the right to reimport FDA-approved prescriptions from Canada.
Against this backdrop of protection for its buddies, this bill represents the crowning achievement of this Administration in trade, free trade with the important, but tiny, island of Singapore. I am not willing to say ``no'' to this modest achievement, but we should recognize that it speaks more of failure than of success.
As a model for the future, the provisions on investor protection, on workers' rights, on environmental protection are a complete failure. Those provisions are not the result of hard-fought negotiations. In the case of Singapore, for example, that country was willing to accept most anything the United States tendered on these issues. And the Administration requested just as little as possible to justify a pseudo-claim that it cared about these issues.
As a precedent, these agreements deserve just as little respect as this Administration has now shown toward the stronger, but still very flawed, U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.
Freeing markets is very important, but so is freeing children from sweatshops. In contrast with its willingness to protect catfish farmers, the Administration is indifferent to the lakes in which those fish swim. These agreements do not guarantee that governments have the right to prevent a public nuisance like pollution of our air or water without paying compensation. The Administration is willing to protect special interests from foreign lumber competition, but not the forests that our families
enjoy and the wilderness areas that are so important to our global future.
Countries should have the right to insist that electric utilities include devices that reduce air pollution, the right to limit roads into forests, and insist on replanting as a condition to investment. Expanding the investor-state language in these agreements to derivatives, stocks, and bonds raises questions about future demands for post-Enron-type accountability that may well reduce a corporate insider's short-term return on investment, even though the reform increases the security of the
public as a whole over the long term. There is a great danger that these agreements will be misconstrued to facilitate challenges to all of these.
Bipartisan support for more international trade has been greatly weakened by this Administration's consistent indifference to meaningfully opening up trade to public participation. More is required than allowing a few hand-picked industry representatives with national security clearances in the back door to review documents. When key decisions are being made behind closed doors, shielded from the press, the public, and watchdog organizations like the Sierra Club, we all lose.
Reacting to its defeat in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit recently, to force disclosure, the U.S. Trade Representative audaciously began classifying documents, and the Administration issued an Executive Order blocking the public's right to know about what was happening on trade--hardly ``free and open trade'' when it is closed to the people of America, even though our trading partners know what secrets are under way.
How trade affects our water, our food and working families should not be a trade secret. America's most important export--democracy--is weakened by ``star chamber'' trade policies.
It is possible to promote more world trade, economic growth, and opportunity without undermining our environment and facilitating child labor, but only by pursuing a different course. Open government is not inconsistent with opening markets. It is the only path that will ultimately lead to our achieving that goal.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, let me close by acknowledging the positive aspect of trades bills. They are deals and they help enhance relationships between our friends, and they create vehicles for trade. We recognize that.
There are also constitutional duties that we have in this body, and let it be very clear, this trade bill implodes the constitutional responsibility of this [Page: H7503]
Congress, and that is to create immigration policies. My greatest respect to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman SENSENBRENNER) and the gentleman from Michigan (Ranking Member CONYERS) for claiming jurisdiction on behalf of the Committee on the Judiciary, but that jurisdiction did
not prevail to the extent that we crafted or carved out bad immigration policy.
What do we have, Mr. Speaker? One, we have an unending visa that, in essence, gives citizenship to an individual over others who are standing in line here in the United States. It gives citizenship to those who are here undocumented, working, paying taxes and have been begging to get in line to get their citizenship. It allows an individual to have perpetual citizenship by way of a visa with no capping whatsoever.
In this climate of terrorism and the war against terrorism and the responsibilities of the Homeland Security Department, what protection do we have to prevent individuals not purposely from utilizing and abusing this visa process?
Additionally, in the backdrop of Microsoft and IBM and Oracle sending jobs overseas and high unemployment, we are providing this trade bill under fast track authority. Would it not have been more appropriate if we had been able to negotiate in the backdrop of the economic crisis?
This bill does not require employers to attest to the fact that they need this employee because they do not have American workers. It does not revenue track the visa fees so we can use it to assist our visa officers across the ocean to be able to bring in the researchers, scientific personnel that we really need and, as well, to be able to help those patients who are in line suffering from cancer and other diseases who cannot get here for treatment.
This bill is a bad bill because it should not and cannot pass constitutional muster. This fast track authority is a problem in and of itself, but the United States Trade Representative has chosen to, in essence, enhance the constitutional problems and highlight why fast track is bad because all they are doing is doing a deal. They are not concerned about the responsibilities of this Congress or the obligations to the American people.
I wish the trade representative had been responsive because I believe that Singapore and Chile have great opportunities for us to do trade in a reasonable way that protects labor rights and the environment, and that we actually have a negotiated deal that impacts positively on the American people and the American workforce. Since this bill does not do that and it violates the Constitution, I ask my colleagues to vote against it.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Washington for yielding me this time, and I rise to oppose H.R. 2739, which would implement the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
I am especially opposed to the intellectual property rights provisions contained in chapter 16 of this agreement because they could restrict the access of the people of Singapore to affordable medicines for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The agreement delays the introduction of generic competition and extends patent terms, thus extending the length of time during which people in Singapore would be required to pay monopoly prices for medicines.
The agreement also restricts Singapore's use of compulsory licensing and parallel importation mechanisms that allow governments to override patents in order to protect public health. If the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement becomes a template for negotiations with other developing countries, people throughout the developing world will find it harder to gain access to affordable medicines.
Currently, access to medicines is severely limited in developing countries because developing countries cannot afford to purchase medicines at the prices charged by the multinational pharmaceutical companies. More than 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and over 95 percent of them live in developing countries. Yet many of the medicines that treat people with HIV/AIDS here in the United States are unavailable in most developing countries. Patients in developing countries with
other diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, also lack access to lifesaving medicines.
The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health affirmed the rights of developing countries to take measures to protect public health and promote access to medicines. This declaration was adopted by the World Trade Organization at the Fourth Ministerial Conference at Doha, Qatar, on November 14, 2001. The Fast Track bill passed by Congress last year specifically directs the President to negotiate trade agreements that are consistent with the provisions of the Doha Declaration.
We cannot trust this administration to negotiate free trade agreements with developing countries when the administration ignores the explicit instructions of Congress in the Fast Track bill to respect the Doha Declaration and allow developing countries to take appropriate measures to protect public health.
I urge my colleagues to support the rights of developing countries to promote access to affordable medicines by opposing the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Washington for yielding me this time, and I stand in opposition to the Singapore-Chile Free Trade Agreement.
Mr. Speaker, this agreement will do nothing to promote fair trade and nothing to help working families in this Nation. We need to create jobs here in the United States. We have seen the damage and what has happened when Congress passes free trade agreements. We have lost over 3 million jobs since NAFTA came into existence. In California alone, we have lost over 80,000 jobs. We currently have an unemployment rate right now of 6.4 percent. A 6.4 percent unemployment rate right now. Hispanics have
an 8.4 percent unemployment rate. African Americans have an 11.8 percent rate. We need to create jobs here in the United States, not somewhere else. We cannot let this happen to us again.
The Chile and Singapore trade agreements will hurt American manufacturing jobs here in the United States. At one time we used to be proud to go into our stores and buy American products that said ``Made in America.'' We are not seeing that any more. What happens when those products are not made and manufactured here in the United States? We lose revenue right here in the United States. What happens to Social Security? What happens to Medicare? It affects the kinds of income that we need in the
future when we look at the services that we have to provide if we are going to some other country.
We continue to give exporters in foreign countries an opportunity to build there but not to create the jobs here in the United States. We need to protect working families right here in the United States. We need to create jobs right here. Our families need to put food on their tables. They must not fear that they are going to lose their jobs to some foreign country.
The agreements are an insult to workers' rights. This agreement will change immigration rules, which have no place in trade agreements. The Singapore agreement will label and import raw materials from countries like China and assemble them and import them into America duty free.
We must not let this become the future example of free trade. We must stand together and fight against unfair and unsafe agreements that hurt American workers.
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not present.