H.R.4883 - North American Environmental, Labor, and Agricultural Standards Act of 1992102nd Congress (1991-1992)
|Sponsor:||Rep. Brown, George E., Jr. [D-CA-36] (Introduced 04/09/1992)|
|Committees:||House - Ways and Means|
|Latest Action:||House - 04/22/1992 Referred to the Subcommittee on Trade. (All Actions)|
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Text: H.R.4883 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)
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Introduced in House
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.