WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 6, 2010) – Oregon Congressman David Wu (D-1st) sent a letter Wednesday to President Obama calling on the president to ensure that all U.S. trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated, promote democracy and fundamental human rights. The letter highlights the human rights violations that occur in some of the TPP partner countries, such as Brunei, the host country for the current round of talks, and encourages the inclusion of a “democracy clause” in the TPP agreement to set clear standards on democracy and human rights.
“Strong and equitable trade relationships with countries along the Pacific Rim help grow businesses and create jobs here in America,” said Wu. “However, trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, should not be viewed as a free pass to sacrifice fundamental values, but rather as a key opportunity to advance democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around the world.
“I have fought for years to put human rights on equal footing with labor and environmental protections in trade agreements,” he added. “Now is the time to negotiate a U.S. trade pact founded on American values in order to support the dignity of all peoples and to drive our nation’s long-term economic growth and global competitiveness.”
Congressman Wu’s letter points to specific trade agreements from around the world that have included democracy and human rights benchmarks as part of the agreement. The letter asserts that if “properly designed, a trade pact can help to address these human rights issues. Many other countries have included ‘democracy clauses’ in their recent trade and integration agreements, from the European Union (EU) to the Southern Cone Common Market nations to the countries signing the Commonwealth Charter. Given that the State Department has identified significant democracy and human rights problems with some of the prospective TPP countries, it is critical that any TPP agreement set clear standards on democracy and human rights.”
“For over a decade, Congressman Wu has been a leader in promoting the necessity of requiring U.S. trade partners to meet core human rights and democracy criteria,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “That is a goal we support both as a matter of morality and smart economics.”
Congressman Wu is a member of the President’s Export Council, the principal national advisory committee on international trade, and the co-founder of the Global Internet Freedom Caucus.