U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which passed the House this morning by a vote of 285 to 132.  The agreement will lower trade barriers to U.S. exports to Peru and put worker and environmental protections on equal footing with commercial concerns.

“The Peru FTA represents a new direction on trade away from the excessively partisan trade debates we saw under the previous Congress.  Chairman Rangel and the Ways and Means Committee deserve credit for forcing the Administration to come to the table to hammer out a bipartisan way forward.  The FTA we approved today represents a real, bipartisan step forward in line with the agreement they worked out earlier this year.

“Prior to the policy agreement, progressive issues such as environmental concerns and worker protections were given far less protection in trade agreements than commercial issues like investor and intellectual property rights.  That made it much harder for the U.S. to leverage our economic strength to influence trading partners to make progress in those areas. 

“By putting strong labor and environmental safeguards on equal footing with other issues, we gain real leverage to enforce them.  This is the most progressive trade agreement to ever come before this House, and I am proud to support it.

“The Peru FTA will also help solidify our economic partnership with Latin America and support Peru’s efforts to grow and reduce poverty.  I visited Peru last year and saw the challenges posed by underdevelopment, as well as the potential that economic growth holds for improving people’s lives.  Our current trade preferences for Peru have fueled growth and poverty reduction there, and this FTA will make those preferences permanent.

“This FTA is a big step forward for our trade policy and I am proud to support it.”

Smith spoke on the floor of the House in favor of the U.S.-Peru FTA, and you can view video of his speech at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith.

You can find a photo from Smith’s 2006 trip to Peru at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/photos/perutrip2006.JPG.  Caption:  U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) met with Felipe Llona, president of AGAP (Ag. Exporters Association), and workers on Llona’s farm about working conditions during Smith’s 2006 trip to Peru.  Photo credit:  Adam Shub, U.S. State Department.