For Immediate Release, Contact: Senator Margaret Rotundo (207) 784-3259 or Rep. John Patrick (207) 364-7666.


Maine’s Citizen Trade Policy Commission Speaks Out in Opposition to the Passage of the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement


AUGUSTA – June 3, 2005. The Citizen Trade Policy Commission (Commission) has urged Maine’s Congressional Delegation to work actively against the passage of the Dominican RepublicCentral America – United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).  United States officials signed the agreement May 28, 2004, but it must be approved by Congress to take effect and it appears a vote may be taken sometime in June or July. 


DR-CAFTA would create a trade and investment bloc that includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.  “The Commission supports international trade but we are not convinced the purported merits of the agreement will outweigh its shortcomings,” said Senator Margaret Rotundo, co-chair of the Commission.  “Increased international trade and investment are extremely important to Maine’s economy but the rules contained in DR-CAFTA exact too high a price for the benefits those rules may provide. Our federalist system is built on principles that respect and preserve the States’ power to promote the health, welfare and environment of its citizens. It is imperative that trade agreements adhere to those principles and do not erode our hard-won and long treasured self-governing freedoms.”


The Commission identified basic standards that any acceptable trade agreement should meet regarding state sovereignty, basic human rights and services, labor rights, environmental protections and the negotiation process.  Based on its own analysis and the concerns of Maine citizens and constituencies, the Commission concluded that DR-CAFTA failed to meet these standards. The Commission stated that at a time when several Maine communities may be facing dramatic job loss and disruption as a result of proposed military base closures, passage of DR-CAFTA would only compound the hardships faced by those communities as the agreement is likely to further diminish economic opportunities in Maine. 


Representative John Patrick, co-chair of the Commission, stated “Traditionally, international trade agreements dealt with the lowering of tariffs and quotas on goods as they move across boarders. However, free trade agreements being negotiated today are not free but are a highly regulated and complex set of rules whose reach extends far beyond matters such as trading forest products or lobsters. Under these rules, what Maine considers an environmental protection or labor safety standard could be challenged and overturned as a ‘barrier to trade.’ Today, trade agreements such as DR-CAFTA can strike at the heart of self-governance in areas traditionally in the domain of local, state and national governments, undermining more than two centuries of American constitutional values.”  The Commission hopes to meet with Maine’s Congressional Delegation to further discuss DR-CAFTA and other international trade agreements currently being negotiated.


The Citizens Trade Policy Commission was established by the Legislature in May of 2004 to assess and monitor the legal and economic impacts of trade agreements on state and local laws, working conditions and the business environment; to provide a mechanism for citizens and Legislators to voice their concerns and recommendations and to make policy recommendations designed to protect Maine’s jobs, business environment and laws from any negative impact of trade agreements. .  The Commission consists of 17 voting members representing a broad spectrum of interested parties and 5 nonvoting members from five state governmental departments.