Tag: Hillary Clinton

Trial Lawyers on Trade Policy

The U.S. Trade Representative’s press schedule today lists a meeting:

Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro will meet with former Congressman Tom Downey and the Amazon Defense Coalition (ADC) to discuss renewal of the Andean Trade Preference Act.
Washington, DC
1:30pm EDT
Closed Press

The issue is whether Ecuador has lived up to the requirements — such things as protection for investment, an adherence to the rule of law — to receive U.S. trade preferences under the Andean Trade Preferences Act. Of course it hasn’t. The National Association of Manufacturers supplied a statement last November to the House Ways and Means Committee detailing the predations of President Rafael Correa’s government against foreign investors.

Ecuador [has] continued to abuse foreign and domestic investors, including using the judiciary and police as harassment arms for the political leadership, rather than independent bastions of and protectors of democracy and rule of law. Over the past five months we have also seen the President of Ecuador issue decrees to revoke patent protections for international pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical manufacturers and threaten to annul many of Ecuador’s long-standing investment treaties including the Ecuador-U.S. Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) which has been in force and benefiting both parties since 1997.

Investor’s Business Daily added a tough editorial earlier this month after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s gave Correa a warm personal and policy embrace in Quito:

Correa is one of the most anti-American leaders in the hemisphere. He has trashed democracy in his own country, taking over the National Assembly by ousting elected lawmakers on spurious legal grounds. His rubber-stamp legislature now structurally resembles that of communist Cuba.

He’s also corrupted the judicial system, taking over the Supreme Court and making every judge a crony. Small wonder recent tapes show rulings-for-sale by an Ecuadorean judge in a $26 billion lawsuit against Chevron. Now Correa’s going after the press, jailing even leftist reporters and shuttering 95% of the private media.

The Chevron dispute is one important issue, as Ecuador’s government lines up with U.S. trial lawyers and activists to rig their $27 billion lawsuit against the company. The anti-Chevron activists at the Amazon Defense Coalition — El Frente de Defensa de la Amazonía* –express outrage when Chevron objects to trade preferences for Ecuador. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) has excoriated the company’s lobbying, calling it extortion. (Chevron makes no apology for pointing out Ecuador’s corruption, nor should it.)

It is amusing to see the Amazon Defense Coalition so overtly engaged in the lobbying game. The ADC’s flacks are always claiming the moral high ground, wrapping their causes in the alpaca cloak of global environmental justice and throwing around ridiculous terms like “Amazonian Chernobyl.” Yet now the group is down in the D.C. dirt, appealing to the U.S. Trade Representative for the extension of U.S. trade preferences to Ecuador. Shall we call that extortion or just hypocrisy?

Call it revealing hypocrisy. According to the USTR schedule cited above, the Amazon Defense Coalition is being accompanied by Tom Downey, the former Congressman from New York and well-known lobbyist. But Downey is not a lobbyist for the Amazon Defense Coalition. According to House lobbying disclosures, Downey represents the Law Offices of Steven R. Donziger, the New York trial lawyer driving the contingency fee litigation against Chevron. (The Philadelphia firm of Kohn, Swift and Graf is financing the lawsuit; Downey represents them as well.)

So U.S. trial lawyers are lobbying to preserve the trade preferences for the anti-American, anti-business, anti-rule-of-law government of Ecuador, where a corrupted judicial system could reward those same U.S. trial lawyers with billions of dollars.

Outrageous? Of course. But to anyone watching this theater piece play out, it’s hardly a surprise.

* Frente recently associated itself with the lobbyists of Sharp & Barnes.

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So Stand Firm Against the Winds: Submit the FTAs to Congress

From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks Wednesday at the 40th Washington Conference on the Americas:

One, I see my friends from Colombia and Panama, and I hate seeing them, I have to be honest. (Laughter.) We are, as President Obama said, committed in the State of the Union to our free trade agreements with both countries, but we are also facing very difficult political challenges. But I am absolutely here to reiterate that commitment. Both Panama and Colombia have worked very hard to deal with some of the questions that were raised by this Administration and certainly by our Congress, and I think that we are going to pursue this. I can’t predict the outcome, but it is something that the President and I in particular feel strongly about. You’ll hear from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk later in the program.

But our commitment to trade is one that we feel strongly about. We just have to deal with the political winds and we need more help from the private sector. We need more strong advocacy on behalf of the importance of trade and why it is good for the United States and American workers. My friends from Mexico, who will be here in great numbers next week, know that we have some challenges on that front as well. I don’t want to ignore that because we have some outstanding trade issues. But again, we are trying to work through those and bring those to resolution, and we’re very excited about President Calderon’s visit.

To win the lottery, you have to first buy a ticket. To lead, you have to stand firm against the political winds. And to enact a free trade agreement, you have to submit it to Congress. The votes are there to pass the Colombia and Peru FTAs.

The Secretary of State also says, “We need more strong advocacy on behalf of the importance of trade and why it is good for the United States and American workers.” From whom? Advocates for the free trade agreements are vocal, fervent, full of facts and good arguments. Shopfloor.org has published 144 separate posts on the Colombia and Panama FTAs. Some of those arguments were good!

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Clean Energy Products Can Be Exported, Too

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke earlier this month at the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) Ministerial, hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank. From her remarks, which outlined progress in expanding the use of cleaner-energy technology in the Caribbean, Central America and South America:

Governments and businesses are investing in new technologies and new sources of energy. And these efforts do have global significance. But we have to use our own creativity and our commitment to bring these efforts to scale. We need sustainable and, yes, profitable solutions that bring more and more dollars into the marketplace. And we have a chance to do that – to create not only progress on energy innovation that will save people money, that will use indigenous sources of energy, but which will also help us fight climate change.

Our emphasis.

The United States boasts many outstanding manufacturrers of clean-energy technologies. Their products could be exported more profitably if the White House were to submit U.S. free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama to Congress for enactment, and if Congress were to support these agreements to expand trade opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.

 

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: One Internet

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an important, excellent speech on the Internet on Thursday, speaking at the Newseum. Clinton stressed the role the Internet plays in individual freedom and commerce around the globe, and stated principles that should guide technological progress. From the transcript:

  • We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it.
  • A connection to global information networks is like an on-ramp to modernity. In the early years of these technologies, many believed that they would divide the world between haves and have-nots. But that hasn’t happened. There are 4 billion cell phones in use today. Many of them are in the hands of market vendors, rickshaw drivers, and others who’ve historically lacked access to education and opportunity. Information networks have become a great leveler, and we should use them together to help lift people out of poverty and give them a freedom from want.
  • Now, ultimately, this issue isn’t just about information freedom; it is about what kind of world we want and what kind of world we will inhabit. It’s about whether we live on a planet with one internet, one global community, and a common body of knowledge that benefits and unites us all, or a fragmented planet in which access to information and opportunity is dependent on where you live and the whims of censors.

And a response, via ABC News, “China Slams Clinton Speech on Internet Freedom.”

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Report from Denver: Hillary Clinton and Glass Ceilings

(Note: NAM’s Executive Vice President Jay Timmons is blogging from the National Democratic Convention in Denver this week.)

No doubt the Democratic convention will make history when the party officially nominates the first African-American presidential candidate.

But another historic moment will come this week when Hillary Clinton receives more delegate votes than any female candidate for President ever has.

It’s hard to believe that in this magnificent country, women only achieved the right to vote 88 years ago. It is unreal that my own grandmother – who worked the polls nearly every year – didn’t have that cherished right when she was born.

But how times have changed. I proudly watched my own mother shatter the glass ceiling as one of the first female CEOs in southern Ohio.

I have the privilege of working with outstanding female legislators in the House and Senate, as well as Governors, on both sides of the aisle. 

And women are moving into CEO suites in more and more manufacturing companies every day.

Mary Andringa, CEO of Vermeer Manufacturing and the Chair of the NAM’s small and medium manufacturers, is one example of the present and future leadership of manufacturing.

And now Hillary. There will be more. And the door will stay open in both parties.

Senator Clinton’s speech in the Pepsi Center in Denver hit all the right chords for the Democratic faithful. She brought the crowd to their feet and tears to their eyes on more than one occasion.

The Senator called on her supporters to get behind Barack Obama and work for his election. “Whether you voted for me or for Barack, the time is now to unite,” she extolled.

Recent polls indicate that over one in four Hillary backers aren’t yet sold on Barack Obama. If Sen. Clinton matches her supportive words for the Obama-Biden ticket with active deeds, perhaps her faithful will come home for the nominee in November.

In the meantime, Senator Clinton will continue to serve in the Senate for at least four more years. Now that her campaign for President has ended, manufacturing workers look forward to working with her to support pro-manufacturing policies and help her increase her NAM support index from its current bleak 16 percent.

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It’s Slanted Against Us!

The Clinton campaign announced today that they are running a TV ad in Pennsylvania that promises that Senator Clinton will “level the playing field” by getting tough on “unfair trade deals.” As the White House prepares to send the Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement to Congress, Senator Clinton has said that she opposes the trade agreement and has called for a “time out” for trade.

We certainly don’t support unfair trade deals either. So we ask the Senator: How can we level the playing field while not taking action on Colombia’s trade barriers? U.S. manufactured goods being exported to Colombia now face an average tariff of 14 percent, while more than 90 percent of Colombia’s products enjoy open access to our market. Isn’t that current arrangement “unfair?”

Don’t you think what would be “fair” would be for Colombia to eliminate its tariffs on U.S.-made products and give us the same open access to their market that we have already given them in our market? We think that’s what would be fair. And it’s exactly what the Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement would do.

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