(Extensions of Remarks - October 13, 2011)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1853]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                               speech of

                        HON. DENNIS J. KUCINICH

                                of ohio

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, October 11, 2011

  Mr. KUCINICH. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 
3079, the United States-Panama Trade Implementation Act.
  With our nation's unemployment rate continuing to hover around 9 
percent, it is unconscionable that we are considering NAFTA-clone free 
trade agreements that will further facilitate the outsourcing of 
American jobs and undermine the rights of American workers. Proponents 
of free trade agreements like to purport that they are good for the 
U.S. economy and will create jobs. But history is on the side of those 
of us who opposed NAFTA, CAFTA and other damaging trade agreements over 
the last decade.
  Free trade agreements play a significant role in exacerbating the 
negative effects of globalization, including the rapid privatization of 
vital public resources. They have resulted in the loss of domestic jobs 
and manufacturing industries and in significant decreases to labor and 
environmental standards. In addition, FTAs result in significant job 
loss and privatization of labor-intensive industries for the countries 
we enter in trade agreements with. Unionizing in countries like Mexico 
and Colombia has resulted in death or imprisonment of union leaders.
  Every state in this country has been affected negatively by our 
destructive trade policies. The Economic Policy Institute estimates 
that nearly 700,000 U.S. jobs have been displaced since the passage of 
NAFTA in the 1990s. The majority of the jobs displaced--60 percent--
were in the manufacturing sector. My home State of Ohio is one of the 
top ten states with the most jobs displaced by NAFTA, having lost 
34,900 jobs. Our rapidly increasing trade deficits with countries like 
China has resulted in the loss over 5 million jobs over the past 
decade. Of that 5 million, the State of Ohio has lost 103,000 jobs as a 
result of the increase in our trade deficit with China.
  This is not a debate about being for trade or against trade as some 
of my colleagues have framed it. This is a debate about learning from 
the free trade policies we have pursued over the last decade that have 
proven to be significantly damaging to the American economy and 
American workers. The numbers speak for themselves.
  I urge my colleagues to oppose this agreement.

                         Panama is a Tax Haven

  Panama is one of the world's worst tax havens, allowing rich U.S. 
individuals and corporations to skirt their responsibility to pay taxes 
that are vital to the local communities that depend on those revenues. 
The U.S.-Panama free trade agreement does nothing to address this 
issue. At a time when potentially damaging austerity measures are being 
proposed to balance the budget, we should not be considering a free 
trade agreement that fails to deal with an issue critical to addressing 
our deficit.
  This FTA includes provisions that even undermine our own laws to 
combat tax haven activity. Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch reports 
that the ``FTA's Services, Financial Services and Investment Chapters 
include provisions that forbid limits on transfers of money between the 
U.S. and Panama. Yet, such limits are the strongest tools that the U.S. 
has to enforce policies aimed at stopping international tax 
  Many have cited a tax treaty signed by Panama earlier this year as a 
reason to support the Panama-FTA and dismiss the concerns of Panama as 
a tax haven. In reality, the agreement (the ``Tax Information Exchange 
Agreement'') fails to hold Panama and corporations accountable for tax 
evasion. The agreement only requires Panama to stop refusing to provide 
information to U.S. officials in specific cases if U.S. officials know 
to inquire. It also includes a significant exception which allows 
Panama to reject requests for information if it is ``contrary to the 
national interest.''
  By passing this free trade agreement, we are rewarding and condoning 
corporations who offshore jobs and practice international tax 
avoidance--practices that significantly hurt American workers and the 
American economy.

         Buy American Provisions--and U.S. Workers--Undermined

  The U.S.-Panama FTA requires the U.S. to waive Buy America 
requirements for all Panamanian-incorporated firms, and even many 
Chinese and other foreign firms incorporated in Panama that are there 
to exploit the tax system. This means that work that should go to U.S. 
workers can be offshored because of rules which forbid Buy America 
preferences requiring U.S. employees to perform contract work by a 
federal agency in the federal procurement process. According to Global 
Trade Watch, the U.S. would be waiving Buy America requirements for 
``trillions in U.S. government contracts for any corporations 
established in Panama and in exchange would get almost no new 
procurement contract opportunities in Panama for U.S. companies.''
  If you support the NAFTA tradition of weakening offshore protections, 
limiting financial service regulations, banning Buy America procurement 
preferences, limiting environmental, food and product safety 
safeguards, and the undermining U.S. workers and our economy, than this 
is your agreement.