Passed by Austin City Council October 31, 2002
the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is negotiating to
create a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) among 34 nations
of the Western Hemisphere, create bilateral agreements such as
the U.S.-Chile agreement, expand the General Agreement on Trade
in Services (GATS), interpret the investment chapter of the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and potentially to add an
investment agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
all of these international negotiations serve to shift
power away from state and local governments by including
provisions on investment, procurement and trade in services.
core functions of state and local government such as
protection of ground water and other natural resources, corporate
ownership of land, zoning, law enforcement by courts, and
sovereign immunity will be undermined by investment agreements
which increase foreign investor rights over and beyond the power
of the state and local government.
state and local purchasing preferences including small
business, minority and women-owned business, vendors with a
competent track record, recycled content, and avoidance of goods
made with forced child labor will be limited by procurement
agreements which are based on the standard that government
purchasing decisions should be limited to price.
services that are traditionally provided or regulated by
cities and states, including water and energy, health facilities,
insurance, sewerage, solid waste, construction and alcoholic
beverages, must not be "more burdensome to trade than
necessary" under agreements on trade in services making it
possible for trade panels to rule against public interest laws that
are deemed burdensome to trade.
serious concerns about these agreements have been
raised by the National League of Cities, the National Conference of
State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties and the
National Association of Attorneys General.
Now, be it resolved, that Congress and the USTR should preserve
the traditional powers of state and local governments as they
negotiate and act upon international agreements by:
* protecting state and local governments' legislative power in the
scope of investment, services and procurement agreements, and
* where such protection has not been achieved, assuring that such
international rules do not deviate from traditional deference to state
and local regulatory authority, and
* safeguarding state and local regulation within GATS rules on
Domestic Regulation and limiting application of those rules to
specific commitments made by countries.
Be it further resolved, that the Texas legislature should create a
select committee to assess the potential impact of international
trade agreements on state and local governments and to keep
abreast of negotiations in order to advise the USTR on safeguarding
state and local authority.
And be it further resolved, that the USTR should not deny state
and local officials access to negotiating documents necessary for
such officials and their constituents to assess the potential impacts
of such negotiations on their legitimate authority.