Thursday, June 03, 2004

Kerry and CAFTA

From a June 1 Wall Street Journal story comes these comments, which should give pause to those who think Kerry might actually follow through with his campaign rhetoric on CAFTA, should he get elected:

...many Democrats want much stronger rules that would allow countries to sanction one another if they fall short on mutually agreed-upon labor and environment rules. Mr. Kerry blasted the current agreement, saying in a statement that he would renegotiate it to include "adequate and fully enforceable protections for labor rights and environmental protections."

Legal and trade experts said Mr. Kerry's pledge would open a can of worms. Trade rules enforceable in Central America also would apply in the U.S., laying the legal groundwork for possible international challenges to lax U.S. protections for migrant workers -- including lack of enforcement of minimum-wage laws and lack of standard benefits given to other U.S. workers, such as Social Security -- or the "right to work" laws in more than a dozen states that protect the right of workers not to join a union.

"Kerry will learn to his regret that teeth that bite south can also bite north," said Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert at the Institute for International Economics.

It also would be unprecedented for a newly elected president to turn his back on a major trade deal negotiated by his predecessor, especially when it involves a region as sensitive to the U.S. as Central America. "It would be such a diplomatic slap to those countries that it would be remembered for years to come," Mr. Hufbauer said.
So, Central America is still a "sensitive" region for the U.S.?