African Free Trade Moves
A bill to set up "free trade" with sub-Saharan African nations
who agree to neoliberal economic reforms passed the U.S. House of Representatives
March 11 on a vote of 233 to 186. HR 1432, titled the "Africa Growth
and Opportunity Act," was rushed to a floor vote a week after the bill's
mark-up in the Ways and Means Committee, before opponents were able to get
the word out about the bill's implications. It goes on to the Senate.
The bill would promote privatization of industry and expansion of production
through joint ventures with U.S. corporations for exports to the United
States. African countries that balk at the terms would become ineligible
for most forms of U.S. aid.
U.S. textile workers fear that the bill will allow textile manufacturers
to move production to Africa. Of 1.3 million Americans still employed in
this sector, 40 percent are people of color and 80 percent are women.
Among opponents were UNITE, the union representing U.S. apparel and textile
workers, Public Citizen, other members of the Citizens Trade Campaign and
Randall Robinson of TransAfrica.
Contact your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 or 1-800-504-0031.
WTO Rules Against Turtles
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled against provisions of the U.S.
Endangered Species Act protecting endangered sea turtles, Global Trade Watch
reported. If upheld, the WTO ruling would force the United States to change
the law or face economic sanctions.
U.S. law requires that shrimp sold in the United States must be caught using
turtle excluder devices that allow sea turtles to escape the deadly nets
used by shrimp fishers. Failure to use turtle excluder devices kill as many
as 150,000 turtles each year.
Mike Dolan of Global Trade Watch said the U.S. Trade Representative refuses
to release the WTO ruling. The Trade Representative maintains that WTO rules
require rulings remain confidential.
"Such secrecy protects nothing but the WTO itself from public criticism,"
To demand release of the WTO ruling against sea turtles, he all U.S. Trade
Representative Charlene Barshefsky at 202-395-6890. If [Trade Representative]
Barshefsky tells you she can't release WTO rulings against U.S. laws, go
ahead and tell her: In that case, the U.S. should withdraw from WTO!"
For more information contact the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, 415-488-0370;
email firstname.lastname@example.org; or Public Citizen, 202-546-4996; e-mail
Ethanol tax incentives survived a 71-26 vote in the U.S. Senate, which encouraged
supporters of a 7-year extension of the program.
Ethanol Tax Break
Some have criticized the ethanol tax breaks, which benefits agribusiness
giant Archer Daniels Midland as well as corn growers, but NFU President
Leland Swenson said, "National Farmers Union has championed the tax-incentive
program for ethanol blenders because it is good for rural economies, it
has been proven to reduce air pollution and it reduces U.S. dependence on
Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., sponsored
the ethanol extension in the Senate version of the highway bill.
"This is the strongest showing of support for the ethanol program we
have seen in the Senate, which is evidence that public awareness of and
support for the program has continued to grow," said NFU Legislative
Representative Lynne McBride. "Data show that ethanol use grew by 24
percent last year alone."
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