The influential US Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday warned it would seek to have Congress scuttle provisions of a just-signed US-Jordan trade accord that protect workers' rights and the environment.
A statement from the world's largest business federation nonetheless welcomed parts of the free trade agreement, signed at a White House ceremony Tuesday, that will eliminate tariffs on two-way goods and services trade between the United States and Jordan over 10 years. "The agreement should also make a positive contribution to the difficult road to Middle East peace," said Chamber president Thomas Donohue.
The deal is the first trade agreement in US commercial history that specifically binds the parties to respect their existing laws and regulations guaranteeing workers' rights and protecting the environment. But in a statement issued by the Chamber, it opposed the inclusion of such provisions, which have long been sought by US trade unions and human rights groups.
"The Chamber has consistently maintained that the best means to achieve improvements in labor and environmental conditions is to pursue these improvements in separate, albeit parallel, efforts," the federation said.
Donohue added that "the Chamber will support congressional approval of the provisions dealing with tariff reductions and will work with Congress to remove the unnecessary non-trade provisions from the pact."
A US trade official earlier this week said Congress next year would be asked to approve the tariff cuts but was not required to consider the trade and environment clauses. — (AFP, Washington)
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