On His Way Out, Corzine Dismisses Public Call for New Direction on American Trade Policy, Vetoes Reform Bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Bryan Buchanan (202) 454-5108

On His Way Out, Corzine Dismisses Public Call for New Direction on American Trade Policy, Vetoes Reform Bill

New Jersey Governor Rejects Bill Passed by State Legislature That Would Safeguard State’s Regulatory Authority From Trade Agreements

WASHINGTON - New Jersey
Gov. Jon Corzine on Monday vetoed cutting-edge legislation that would
have safeguarded job-creation programs, Buy America/Buy New Jersey
procurement preferences and renewable source energy policies from being
undermined by trade agreements. The Jobs, Trade and Democracy Act
required a vote by the state Legislature before the state could be
bound by federal government officials to conform state policies to the
non-trade regulatory constraints imposed through certain trade
agreements. The bill was designed to ensure that the practice and
principles of American democracy, from federalism to checks and
balances, are safeguarded in this era of globalization, Public Citizen
said.  

The New Jersey
bill Corzine vetoed dovetails with the federal Trade Reform
Accountability Development and Employment (TRADE) Act, which provides
for improved state-federal consultation on trade agreement matters.
That bipartisan legislation has 133 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of
Representatives, including New Jersey congressional Reps. Robert Andrews, Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne, Steve Rothman and Chris Smith.

 "It's hard to
understand why Gov. Corzine would oppose the efforts of people in New
Jersey as well as state and local officials nationwide who are
demanding new accountability over federal trade negotiators so they do
not negotiate away states' abilities to create jobs using smart
procurement policies and regulate health, energy and other services,"
said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
division. "How New Jersey chooses to spend its taxpayers' dollars to
pursue local economic development or design policies to make health
care affordable should be decided by New Jersey citizens through their
democratically elected Legislature with approval by their governor -
not imposed top-down by foreign trade pacts."

The
legislation (S. 1802), which passed the New Jersey General Assembly in
May (61-13-3) and the state Senate in December (32-6), would have
required state legislative approval of federal government requests in
order for New Jersey to be bound to conform its policies to the
non-tariff provisions of future trade agreements, including these
agreements' service sector, procurement and investment rules. Today's
trade agreements have drastically expanded scopes, which include the
imposition of new constraints on non-trade policies over which state
and local governments traditionally have had jurisdiction, such as
those affecting environmental protection, financial service regulation,
land use and economic development, access to affordable healthcare and
medicines, and more. State and local officials have increasingly become
aware that today's "trade" agreements are invading the non-trade policy
space reserved for state officials through an insidious sort of
international pre-emption. Five other states - Hawaii, Maine, Maryland,
Minnesota and Rhode Island - have recently enacted legislation similar
to that which Corzine vetoed.

The New Jersey
legislation was in part a response to past attempts by the U.S. Trade
Representative's (USTR) office to obtain blanket sign-on from state
governors to bind their states' laws to comply with procurement policy
constraints included in an array of trade agreements with several dozen
countries - including agreements that had not yet been negotiated.
Given that the setting of state procurement policy is typically a
function of the legislative branch, the past practice of federal
officials binding state procurement laws to comply with trade pact
restrictions without consulting state legislatures has been highly
controversial. During the Bush administration, the USTR also rebuffed
state legislators' requests simply to be given notice when the USTR
requested that governors bind their states to trade pact procurement
provisions.

Corzine's veto
defies growing public opposition to current U.S. trade agreement
policies following fair trade election sweeps. In 2006 and 2008, 72
congressional incumbents who supported the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA)/World Trade Organization (WTO) trade pact model were
replaced by fair traders who rejected these failed policies and
advocated improvements.

"Gov. Corzine
rejected the voters' call for a new approach to trade policy by
choosing not to reclaim from overreaching ‘trade' agreement
requirements the ability to promote New Jersey's social, environmental
and economic development goals," said Sarah Edelman, state and local
program coordinator for Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
division. "Creating new, orderly avenues for state legislatures to
decide if and when their regulatory space will be constrained by U.S.
trade policy would help ensure we can obtain the benefits of both a
healthy federalist democracy and trade." 

Since the
passage of NAFTA and the WTO, the United States has seen its trade
deficit balloon from less than $100 billion to $700 billion, five
million manufacturing jobs sent offshore and median real wages remain
flat - even as worker productivity has soared. Meanwhile, scores of
domestic non-trade laws have been challenged before foreign tribunals
established under the "trade" pacts, including state laws on zoning,
toxics and mining.

READ the bill.

LEARN more about state and local governments' actions regarding international trade agreements.

###

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

Share This Article

More in: