Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been a veritable fountain of policy proposals ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary, and her latest involves completely re-writing the rules governing how the U.S. negotiates international trade deals.
“This isn’t about tough talk — it’s about big, structural change.”
Never missing a moment to stand up for the little guy, Warren said existing rules governing trade are imbalanced to help multinational corporations at the expense of workers. To fix that, Warren wants to revise negotiating rules, increase public disclosure and expanded participation, which she says will produce more fair outcomes.
She called for the trade changes in her “economic patriotism” agenda, which also includes big tax hikes on the rich, the break-up of big tech companies and new regulations on Wall Street.
For decades, America’s trade policy has put the profits of big multinational corporations ahead of American workers, farmers, and the environment. I have a new approach: Trade on our terms and only when it benefits American families. Here’s my plan. https://t.co/M0ILIV637H
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 29, 2019
The major elements of her plan, via CNBC:
- Public disclosure of draft agreement texts throughout the negotiation process, not merely after a deal is reached and sent to Congress for a vote.
- An expanded roster of advisory groups to U.S. negotiators beyond corporate and trade representatives to include a panel representing consumers, one representing rural areas and one for each region of the country.
- Use of “fast-track” consideration by Congress, which requires an up-or-down vote without amendments, only when advisory groups unanimously endorse a trade deal as beneficial.
- Higher labor, human rights and environmental standards for the countries the U.S. negotiates with as a condition of reaching a trade agreement.
- A new “border carbon adjustment” tax on imported goods made by corporations that shift production to countries with weaker greenhouse gas emissions standards.
- An end to “investor-state dispute settlement” arbitration that allows corporations to challenge laws enacted by countries on grounds that they violate trade deals the countries have signed.
Warren also gave more info in a thread of tweets.
“America has enormous leverage in trade negotiations. I won’t hand that leverage to corporations to boost their own profits — I’ll use it to create and defend good American jobs, raise wages, fight climate change, lower drug prices, and raise living standards worldwide.
“My plan is a whole new approach to trade that will transform every aspect of our current process, from how we negotiate deals, to the negotiating objectives we pursue, to the way we enforce agreements. This isn’t about tough talk — it’s about big, structural change.
“Our trade negotiations give special access to corporate interests before the agreement is rushed through Congress. I’ll end this undemocratic, corrupt practice and negotiate and approve trade deals through a transparent process that offers the public a real chance to shape them.
“For too long, we’ve made trade deals with countries with abysmal records on labor, environmental issues, and human rights. They get concrete access to the American market while we get vague commitments to do better — which we hardly enforce. This must end.
“I’ll establish a set of standards that countries must meet as a precondition for any trade agreement: covering labor rights, human rights, religious freedom, human trafficking, protecting the environment, currency practices, and combating tax evasion and bribery.
“I’ll also go further to make sure our trade deals ensure consumer safety & protect America’s family farms. And I’ll fight to bring down the costs of prescription drugs here & around the world by supporting price controls & seeking out opportunities to reduce exclusivity periods.
“I’ll make combating climate change a key focus of our trade deals — and make sure America lives up to the same standards we hold other countries to. I’ll require countries we negotiate trade deals with to comply with the Paris Climate accord and end fossil fuel subsidies.
“Finally, our approach to enforcing trade deals is driving down standards worldwide. We offer corporations fast and powerful methods to enforce the provisions that benefit them, but make it nearly impossible to enforce labor and environmental protections. It’s time to change that.
“I’ll end “Investor-State Dispute Settlement”—the favorable enforcement we offer corporations which they’ve used to undermine laws that benefit workers & families (like minimum wage increases). And I’ll create a new, stronger approach to enforcing labor & environmental standards.
“Trade can be a powerful tool. My plan represents a new approach—one that uses America’s leverage to boost American workers and raise the global standard of living. The president has a lot of authority to remake trade policy herself. When elected, I intend to use it.”