U.S. Democrats insist on changes in FTA with Peru, Colombia, & Panama

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab (left) and Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Mercedes Araoz.

(LIP-jl) — In the latest turn of events in the saga that is the free trade agreement between Peru and the United States, U.S. Democrats told U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration that changes need to be made to the agreements.

New York Democrat and House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, informed yesterday he believed both sides were on track to compromise on labor issues U.S. Democrats feel strongly about.

"We are on the brink of restoring bipartisanship to trade policies," commented Rangel.

According to Republican Sander Levin, stipulations in the free trade agreements regarding labor issues will have to include provisions that will force Peru to abide by international labor standards.

Other changes insisted upon by U.S. Democrats call for more environmentally friendly acts and unrestricted access to medication by Peru’s poorest citizens.

Meanwhile, Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism Mercedes Araoz, defended Peru’s current labor policies while meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

According to Peru’s El Comercio newspaper, Araoz emphasized her government’s increased labor inspections. Araoz informed Peru currently has a plan in place that will eradicate forced labor, something which she claims, is a model held in high regard by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

"I agree that we need to improve the enforcement of our labor laws," Araoz commented.

Nonetheless, Araoz affirmed Peru is not willing to renegotiate the agreement since the Peruvian Congress already passed the agreement last year.

"We can talk about adding additional documents relating to the FTA, I do not have any problems with that. However, we mustn’t let our parliament down since they have already voiced their position on the matter," sustained Araoz.