Text: H.R.4883 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

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HR 4883 IH
102d CONGRESS
2d Session
 H. R. 4883
To provide for the trilateral negotiation of North American environmental,
labor, and agricultural standards, to implement as United States negotiating
objectives in the North American free trade area negotiations certain
threshold protections regarding worker rights, agricultural standards,
and environmental quality, and to implement a corresponding, comprehensive
trinational dispute resolution mechanism to investigate, adjudicate, and
render binding, enforceable judgments against any unfair trade practices
arising within the North American free trade area, including those involving
the systematic denial or practical negation of certain threshold protections
of worker rights, agricultural standards, and environmental quality.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 9, 1992
Mr. BROWN (for himself, Mr. TRAXLER, Mr. ROYBAL, Mr. EVANS, Mr. HENRY,
Mr. WOLPE, Mr. LLOYD, and Mr. BRUCE) introduced the following bill; which
was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means
A BILL
To provide for the trilateral negotiation of North American environmental,
labor, and agricultural standards, to implement as United States negotiating
objectives in the North American free trade area negotiations certain
threshold protections regarding worker rights, agricultural standards,
and environmental quality, and to implement a corresponding, comprehensive
trinational dispute resolution mechanism to investigate, adjudicate, and
render binding, enforceable judgments against any unfair trade practices
arising within the North American free trade area, including those involving
the systematic denial or practical negation of certain threshold protections
of worker rights, agricultural standards, and environmental quality.
  Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
  States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
  This Act may be cited as the `North American Environmental, Labor, and
  Agricultural Standards Act of 1992'.
SEC. 2. PRINCIPAL NEGOTIATING OBJECTIVES OF THE UNITED STATES.
  In addition to the overall and principal trade negotiating objectives
  of the United States set forth in section 1101 of the Omnibus Trade
  and Competitiveness Act of 1988, the purposes, policies, and objectives
  of title I of such Act of 1988 that are applicable with respect to any
  free-trade area trade agreement negotiated under the authority of such
  title I with Canada and Mexico (hereinafter referred to as the `NAFTA')
  include the achievement of the following principal negotiating objectives:
  (1) WORKER RIGHTS AND STANDARDS AND PROTECTION- With a view to establishing
  open, expanding mutually-beneficial trade among Canada, Mexico, and the
  United States, to spreading the benefits of such trade as widely as possible,
  to protecting citizens interests, and to enhancing respect for human rights
  throughout North America, the principal negotiating objectives of the United
  States with respect to worker rights and standards, and the protection
  thereof, in the conduct of international trade, commerce, and finance are--
  (A) to ensure freedom of association and to affirm the vital role that
  free and independent unions play in democratic governance;
  (B) to ensure the rights of working people to organize, to bargain
  collectively, and to strike, and to ensure the right of workers'
  representatives to legal protection in the free exercise of their duties
  and fundamental human rights;
  (C) to establish a minimum age for the employment of children--
  (i) at 14 years if the employment will not result in the neglect of their
  education and will not harm their health and well-being, and
  (ii) at 18 years if the employment involves the use of, or exposure to,
  hazardous equipment or toxic chemical substances, but only if the use or
  exposure will not pose long-term risks to their health and safety;
  (D) to ensure the right to health at the workplace and to a healthy working
  environment, including freedom from exposure to toxic substances;
  (E) to guarantee the right of all workers to equal protection, including
  freedom from discrimination in wages or working conditions, regardless of
  their nationality, race, religion, age, or sex; and
  (F) to guarantee humane standards of wages and hours of work that take
  into account different levels of national economic development, but provide
  for improvement concurrently with gains in productivity.
  (2) ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PROTECTION- In recognition of the shared
  responsibility of Canada, Mexico, and the United States as stewards
  responsible for, and our common interest in, preserving and sustaining
  the North American continent's natural habitat and resources over time,
  the principal negotiating objectives of the United States with respect to
  environmental quality and protection are--
  (A) the protection of environmental quality and of the integrity of
  ecosystems, as well as the maintenance of scarce biological and physical
  resources, in the conduct of international trade, commerce, and finance;
  (B) the establishment of a process for the full and public disclosure
  of the kinds, quantities, and risks associated with toxic chemical and
  hazardous substance discharges into the air, water, and land;
  (C) the prevention of the export of toxic and hazardous substances and
  products, such as carcinogens and unsafe drugs, that are banned in the
  country of origin;
  (D) the prevention of the export of products (unless remediation or
  repatriation contracts already exist) manufactured, extracted, harvested,
  or grown under environmental conditions or workplace safety and health
  conditions that undermine counterpart standards, particularly those
  applicable to the counterpart industry in the importing country or the
  counterpart standards, in general, in the importing country; and
  (E) to require that industries within their national borders reduce the
  amount and toxicity of hazardous substances that they use, minimize the
  amount and toxicity of wastes they generate, and demonstrate publicly
  their use of best available technology for pollution abatement in their
  production processes.
  (3) UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES- In acknowledging different, evolving comparative
  advantages among trading nations, but with a view to distinguishing between
  acceptable and unacceptable means of competition among trading nations,
  the principal negotiating objectives of the United States with respect to
  unfair trade practices shall include the adoption, as a principle, that
  the systematic denial or practical negation of the protections accorded
  worker rights and standards and environmental quality (within the context
  of paragraphs (1) and (2)) as a means for any country or its industries to
  gain competitive advantage in international trade, commerce, and finance
  is an actionable unfair trade practice.
  (4) COMPREHENSIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION- The principal negotiating objectives
  of the United States are to achieve a process for the settlement of disputes
  that arise between or among the signatories with respect to unfair trade
  practices, including not only those involving commonly identified unfair
  trade barriers, but unfair practices, within the context of the negotiating
  objectives listed in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) involving the systematic
  denial or practical negation of worker rights and standards and failure to
  apply or enforce standards relating to environmental quality or protection,
  resulting in distortions to international trade, commerce, and finance. Such
  a process shall include--
  (A) notification by each signatory nation to the other signatories regarding
  changes in law or practice that will materially affect the agreement;
  (B) provision, on a sequential basis and subject to reasonable time limits,
  for consultation between or among signatories, for mediation, and, if
  necessary, for binding arbitration;
  (C) the establishment of a trinational commission, with authority to
  investigate, adjudicate, and issue binding judgments in a timely manner
  regarding the issues in dispute pursuant to subparagraph (B)--
  (i) that consists of equal numbers of experts from the signatory nations
  (with United States experts being subject to the advice and consent of
  the United States Senate), and
  (ii) the chairmanship of which will be filled by individuals who--
  (I) are citizens of the respective signatories,
  (II) serve on a rotational basis among the signatories for 2-year terms,
  but no individual may serve in such office for more than one term, and
  (III) are appointed to such office by the respective chief executive officers
  of the signatories (and any chairperson appointed from the United States
  is subject to the advice and consent of the United States Senate); and
  (D) provision for the trinational commission, in its proceedings and
  deliberations, to consult with a wide array of representative organizations,
  in addition to government agencies, with expertise in labor, environmental,
  agricultural, and scientific matters in each of the signatory nations;
  (E) provision for the trinational commission to enforce its judgments,
  as appropriate, by authorizing an aggrieved signatory nation to--
  (i) suspend, withdraw, or prevent the application of, the benefits of
  trade agreement concessions to carry out the NAFTA with the offending
  signatory nation,
  (ii) impose proportionate duties on specific products, companies, or
  industries, or other offsetting import restrictions on the goods of,
  and offsetting fees or restrictions on the services of, the offending
  signatory nation for such time as the trinational commission determines, or
  (iii) enter into binding agreements with the offending signatory nation
  that commit such nation to--
  (I) eliminate, or phase out, the act, policy, or practice that constitutes
  an unfair trade practice and that is the subject of the action to be taken
  under clause (i) or (ii),
  (II) eliminate any burden or restriction on North American trade, as
  defined in the NAFTA, resulting from such unfair trade practice,
  (III) provide the aggrieved signatory nation with compensatory trade
  benefits that are satisfactory to the trinational commission and meet the
  requirements of subparagraph (F), or
  (IV) enter into debt-for-science exchanges, or similar arrangements, as
  appropriate, that are satisfactory to the trinational commission and that
  serve, as potential funding sources for remedies recommended under paragraph
  (5), to ameliorate the issues in dispute pursuant to subparagraph (B);
  (F) provision that any binding agreement described in subparagraph
  (E)(iii)(III) provide compensatory trade benefits (including, but not limited
  to, appropriate fees on trans-border movements of products, services,
  or capital) that benefit the economic sector which includes the domestic
  industry in the aggrieved signatory nation that would benefit from the
  elimination of the act, policy, or practice that constitutes an unfair
  trade practice and that is the subject of the action to be taken under
  subparagraph (E), or benefit the economic sector within the aggrieved
  signatory nation as closely related as possible to such sector, unless--
  (i) the provision of such trade benefits is not feasible, or
  (ii) trade benefits that benefit any other economic sector within the
  aggrieved signatory nation would be clearly and substantially more
  satisfactory than such trade benefits;
  (G) provision for the trinational commission, in taking action against
  unfair trade practices, as defined in the NAFTA, to avoid diminishing higher
  protections accorded worker rights and standards and environmental quality
  and protection and to give preference to the prompt elimination of the act,
  policy, or practice at issue over--
  (i) the imposition of duties or other offsetting import restrictions or
  compensatory trade benefits, or
  (ii) the entering into of debt relief arrangements described in subparagraph
  (E)(iii)(IV);
  (H) provision for the government of any signatory nation or any informed
  person within a signatory nation to file a petition requesting the
  trinational commission to take action under subparagraph (E) against any
  unfair trade practice, including the systematic denial or practical negation
  of worker rights and standards and failure to apply or enforce standards
  relating to environmental quality or protection (referred to in paragraphs
  (1) and (2)), and setting forth the allegations in support of the request
  in public hearings and written testimony; and
  (I) provision for the proceedings, record, and decisions (along with the
  supporting rationale) of the trinational commission to be made public
  information.
  (5) TECHNICAL ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS-
  (A) INTERAGENCY COMMITTEE- The Director of the Office of Science and
  Technology shall establish, through the Federal Coordinating Council on
  Science, Engineering, and Technology, an interagency committee to provide
  technical assistance, advice, and recommendations to United States experts
  on the trinational commission. The interagency committee shall include
  one representative from each of the following agencies:
  (i) The National Science Foundation.
  (ii) The Environmental Protection Agency.
  (iii) The Department of Labor.
  (iv) The Department of the Interior.
  (v) The Department of Agriculture.
  (vi) The Department of Energy.
  (vii) The National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  (viii) The Department of Justice.
  (B) SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS- In addition to the general functions referred to in
  subparagraph (A), the interagency committee shall evaluate the scientific
  and technological aspects of certain disputes brought before the trinational
  commission that pertain to environmental quality and protection and to
  workplace safety and health, and shall determine if violations related to
  the disputes reflect--
  (i) inadequate or insufficient application of known technologies and
  techniques for mitigation of the violations, or
  (ii) need for additional research on, and the development of, new
  technologies and techniques for mitigation of the violations.
Consistent with paragraph (4)(G), and after consultations with State and
local government officials and a wide array of representative organizations
with expertise in environmental, labor, agricultural and scientific matters,
the interagency committee will recommend to the United States experts on the
trinational commission, when appropriate, specific technological remedies to
eliminate violations or further research that is needed to develop scientific
and technological remedies.