UNITED STATES-BAHRAIN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT (H.R. 4340); Congressional Record Vol. 151, No. 168
(Extensions of Remarks - December 22, 2005)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2650-E2651]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  UNITED STATES-BAHRAIN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT (H.R. 
                                 4340)

                                 ______
                                 

                          HON. BETTY McCOLLUM

                              of minnesota

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, December 22, 2005

  Ms. McCOLLUM of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition 
to the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 
(H.R. 4340).
  The Kingdom of Bahrain has been an American ally in the Persian Gulf 
for decades, and I support expanding opportunities for trade between 
our nations. Trade is a valuable tool to strengthen America's global 
partnerships and advance a higher quality of life at home and abroad. 
The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, however, does not pursue trade 
that is free and fair. Rather, it expands a system of globalization 
that benefits large multinational corporations at the expense of 
working people and their families.
  Under this free trade agreement, Bahrain is only required to comply 
with its domestic labor laws, which do not need to be consistent with 
international recognized labor rights. As a result, workers can be 
denied their right to organize and bargain collectively and have no 
guarantee of freedom from child labor, forced

[[Page E2651]]

labor, and discrimination. In turn, the playing field for U.S. workers 
and goods produced in the U.S. must be lowered to compete with the 
current standards of our trading partner.
  This Congress knows better. Just four years ago, this House passed a 
free trade agreement with another country in the Middle East, Jordan, 
by voice vote. The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement affirmed the rights 
of workers and explicitly stated that it was ``inappropriate to 
encourage trade by relaxing domestic labor laws.'' It is extremely 
disappointing that the agreement before us today could not live up to 
this standard and do more to protect the rights of workers.
  The U.S.-Bahrain free trade agreement also fails on environmental 
protection. Under this agreement, the labor and environmental dispute 
process is inferior to that provided for commercial provisions. 
Monetary fines for environmental and labor violations are capped at $15 
million. This amount is lower than that for commercial violations and 
likely too low to deter the most severe violations.
  This free trade agreement also undermines the quality of life of 
working families in other ways. It extends patent protection for 
pharmaceutical companies, extending the time before generic drugs may 
enter the market. This denies working families affordable access to the 
prescription drugs they need, to the benefit of already successful drug 
companies.
  For these reasons, I oppose this free trade agreement and encourage 
my colleagues to vote against this legislation.

                          ____________________




[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2650-E2651]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  UNITED STATES-BAHRAIN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT (H.R. 
                                 4340)

                                 ______
                                 

                          HON. BETTY McCOLLUM

                              of minnesota

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, December 22, 2005

  Ms. McCOLLUM of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition 
to the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 
(H.R. 4340).
  The Kingdom of Bahrain has been an American ally in the Persian Gulf 
for decades, and I support expanding opportunities for trade between 
our nations. Trade is a valuable tool to strengthen America's global 
partnerships and advance a higher quality of life at home and abroad. 
The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, however, does not pursue trade 
that is free and fair. Rather, it expands a system of globalization 
that benefits large multinational corporations at the expense of 
working people and their families.
  Under this free trade agreement, Bahrain is only required to comply 
with its domestic labor laws, which do not need to be consistent with 
international recognized labor rights. As a result, workers can be 
denied their right to organize and bargain collectively and have no 
guarantee of freedom from child labor, forced

[[Page E2651]]

labor, and discrimination. In turn, the playing field for U.S. workers 
and goods produced in the U.S. must be lowered to compete with the 
current standards of our trading partner.
  This Congress knows better. Just four years ago, this House passed a 
free trade agreement with another country in the Middle East, Jordan, 
by voice vote. The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement affirmed the rights 
of workers and explicitly stated that it was ``inappropriate to 
encourage trade by relaxing domestic labor laws.'' It is extremely 
disappointing that the agreement before us today could not live up to 
this standard and do more to protect the rights of workers.
  The U.S.-Bahrain free trade agreement also fails on environmental 
protection. Under this agreement, the labor and environmental dispute 
process is inferior to that provided for commercial provisions. 
Monetary fines for environmental and labor violations are capped at $15 
million. This amount is lower than that for commercial violations and 
likely too low to deter the most severe violations.
  This free trade agreement also undermines the quality of life of 
working families in other ways. It extends patent protection for 
pharmaceutical companies, extending the time before generic drugs may 
enter the market. This denies working families affordable access to the 
prescription drugs they need, to the benefit of already successful drug 
companies.
  For these reasons, I oppose this free trade agreement and encourage 
my colleagues to vote against this legislation.

                          ____________________