July __, 2006
I am writing to ask you to OPPOSE the Oman Free
Trade Agreement because its weak environmental provisions and strong investor
protections have grave implications for animals. Oman is home to 24 species of
animals that are threatened with extinction and 189 additional species whose
trade must be closely controlled for their survival, but Oman has not ratified
key species protection agreements such as the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species (CITES). OFTA mandates no minimum environmental
standards, and there is no aspect of the agreement that would protect these
animals in the future.
In addition, the agreement has provisions
to challenge natural resource contracts, service contracts, and infrastructure
projects that could result in unchecked development by corporations. Industrial pollution from oil refining and
natural gas extraction has already led to the disturbance and destruction of
beaches that serve as nesting and foraging sites for a variety of species of
turtles including the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. With passage of this trade agreement, coastal
development is likely to increase to the detriment of the already threatened
Further, implementation of domestic environmental
laws already in place can violate commercial obligations under OFTA, resulting
in a challenge in binding, privately enforced tribunals run by corporate and
government-appointed representatives. The tribunals can demand payment from
governments for upholding their own laws and require them to weaken those laws.
These provisions are deeply problematic and set the stage for habitat
destruction, species exploitation and the weakening of environmental and animal
will also mean more suffering for farmed animals. Unlike the US, Omani farmers have not adopted intensive
confinement factory farm agricultural systems, which produce meat more cheaply
and cruelly than Omanís
By failing to protect domestic producers in Oman
while guaranteeing tariff-free market access for US
industrial meat and dairy producers, OFTA will encourage US factory farm
agriculture corporations to absorb market share from Omanís domestic producers, meaning
that more animals will suffer in factory farms.
vote NO on this inhumane agreement.