Trade Victory in Boston


On Wednesday, June 19, the Boston City Council held a vigorous half hour debate on the impact of international trade and investment agreements on their fair city. When the debate concluded, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution which states: "That the Boston City Council gives its full support for the passage of the Globalization Impact Bill (H.2119) by the Massachusetts state legislature and governor."

The resolution brought home to Council members that global trade agreements are already having a direct local impact. The resolution states in part:

"Mondev International, a Canadian developer, has filed a $50 million suit against the U.S. government, claiming that they were treated unfairly by Boston officials and that Massachusetts state courts violated NAFTA when their Downtown Crossing retail project failed and the rights to Haywood Place were taken from them; "

The Boston-Cambridge Alliance for Democracy has been working long and hard with allied organizations to get the Massachusetts bill passed. The successful strategy to have the City Council support the bill provides important momentum.

Before the vote, BCA chair, David Lewit, delivered a fact sheet to all Council members, which began

"GLOBAL TRADE AGREEMENTS, NEGOTIATED WITHOUT ANY LOCAL INPUT, are taking away local democratic authority. It is time for Boston, the home of the Boston Tea Party, to protect its right to govern in the interests of its people and to assert its authority over foreign corporations."

He also emphasized the local impact, saying:

"Mondev is claiming the parking lot property next to their failed Lafayette Place on Washington Street. If the NAFTA tribunal (made up of trade lawyers) awards them such damages, there will be no appeal to any court in the U.S. If the U.S. loses the case and has to pay, the federal government may seek to make Boston pay them back, or be cut off from federal subsidies."

These successful strategies can be useful in other communities working on local resolutions.

The Globalization Impact Bill (H.2119) is sponsored by State Rep. Byron Rushing, who earlier sponsored the MA Burma bill which eventually landed in the U.S. Supreme Court. The globalization bill would establish a state commission to study the impact of the World Trade Organization and other agreements on Massachusetts laws and regulations. The Commission would then recommend what position the state should take on such agreements under negotiation.