In praising the passage of the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, the Retail Industry Leaders Association noted that US exports to Peru had faced an average tariff of 10% that will be remedied by enactment of the agreement. According to reports, the agreement is the first that required labor rights and environmental standards to be negotiated equally with reductions in tariffs, among many other issues. In fact, many point to the inclusion of labor and environmental standards in the pact as a key factor in its passage.
The Agreement eliminates duties on some 80% of US consumer and industrial products and agricultural exports to Peru. All tariffs will be eliminated over time.
Endorsement of the Agreement has been politically volatile, particularly in these months leading to next year’s elections. The House had passed the measure by a vote of 285 to 132, with 109 Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Dem-San Francisco) saying yea. Numbers opposing the measure in the House were 116 Democrats and 16 Republicans. Those Democrats who opposed the Agreement spoke of loss of jobs and other negative perceptions of globalization by voters in their districts.
In giving final approval, 29 Democrat Senators voted for it, 16 against. The final count was 77-18 in favor of the Agreement. Only two Republicans didn’t vote for passage, both from Arizona. John McCain was away campaigning for President but had expressed support for the measure. The other was John Kyl who voted against it.
Three other free trade agreements are now seeking Congressional approval. Predictions are that these pacts with Colombia, Panama and South Korea will stir even more controversy than this one with Peru and face stiffer opposition to passage.