Critics: Bush signoff on US-Peru trade pact ignores labor, environment concerns
| Associated Press Writer
7:32 PM EST, January 16, 2009
(AP) — President George W.
Bush signed off Friday on a free trade pact with Peru that U.S. officials say
will foster economic growth, but which lawmakers in both countries complain does
not meet environmental and labor protection requirements.
In a statement issued in
Free trade agreements have been a hallmark of the Bush administration but the Democrat-led U.S. Congress only approved the
Bush's move on Friday, four days before he leaves office, met with a chorus of complaints from both countries.
Along with environmentalists, they say a newly amended forestry law backed by Garcia will allow large swaths of rain forest to be converted into biofuel projects if they are deemed "a matter of national interest."
"The new law means 70 percent of the Amazon runs the risk of deforestation," Roger Najar, who heads Congress' indigenous caucus, told The Associated Press. He said Garcia signed a January 2008 decree that deemed the development of sugar cane and bamboo plantations in the national interest.
Garcia's environment minister, Antonio Brack, said Najar was misinterpreting the new law, which he said is now stronger.
Also complaining that
He wrote Schwab on Wednesday, saying Peru has failed to meet the pact's labor requirements, including strengthening the right to free association and collective bargaining and prohibiting the practice of subcontracting.
Eight environmental, political and labor groups including the AFL-CIO, Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund also decried Bush's move as premature.
The trade pact eliminates duties on 80 percent of
Commerce between the two nations totals more than $9 billion a year and the pact fully opens to
Almost all Peruvian exports to the
In his eight years in office, Bush has reached free trade agreements with 10 Latin American countries. But the U.S. Congress has not ratified the
Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in