Washington Fair Trade Coalition is the legacy of the 1999 WTO shut-down in Seattle
- Labor, environmental, faith, farmer, student and social justice groups jointly mobilized into a powerful movement for trade justice
- Civil society established the right to be involved in setting trade policy, previously the monopoly of investors and business interests
What We Believe
We believe trade between countries plays a critical role in helping to create a just, prosperous, and sustainable world economy. We also believe trade policy should treat all sectors of society fairly, and that benefits of trade should be shared widely across communities and countries.
Staff & Board
WFTC Platform On Fair Trade
As citizens, residents, organizations and elected officials of Washington state, we support policies that promote fair trade, equitable economic development and the greater public good. To this end, we support trade agreements that meet the following standards:
• Enforceable environmental, labor, health, and human rights standards
Trade agreements must include provisions that encourage and protect strong labor and environmental practices, including the core labor standards of the International Labor Organization. These provisions must be subject to the same enforcement as that for commercial provisions. Trade agreements should not supersede rights and obligations granted under multilateral environmental, labor, health, and human rights agreements solely to boost trade, but instead should act as a means to further reinforce and strengthen these rights and obligations. Trade agreements must respect the rights of immigrants and include policies that provide pathways to citizenship and defend immigrants’ rights at the workplace.
• No promotion of outsourcing/offshoring
Trade agreements must not be structured to give investors incentives to move jobs and factories offshore through special tax breaks, exemptions, subsidies, investment guarantees, or other exceptional provisions.
• Responsible maintenance of public goods and services
Trade agreements must support governments’ right to maintain essential public services (e.g., health, education, water) and to regulate private sector services on behalf of their citizen’s welfare. Trade agreements must also preserve the right of federal, state, and local governments to maintain procurement policies that reflect public values, including green procurement, prevailing wage laws, and preferences for local labor, or small, minority- or women-owned businesses.
• Investment rules that uphold the public interest
Investors should not be granted special rights (such as those in NAFTA’s Chapter 11 or CAFTA’s Chapter 10) to challenge environmental, public health, and other regulations enacted by law for the public’s interest. Furthermore, dispute resolution should not be handled by secret tribunals, but instead through established state, national, and international legal systems. Where these legal systems are weak, trade agreements should include provisions to strengthen, rather than bypass, them.
• Agriculture and food security
Trade agreements should support sustainable agricultural practices, and must not restrict governments’ ability to safeguard their food supply, rural development programs, and small farmers. Trade agreements must not prevent countries from developing necessary standards to prevent invasive species and preserve food safety. Trade agreements must respect the consumers’ right to know where and how food is produced.
• Balanced approach to patent interests
Trade agreements must reflect an appropriate balance between commercial patent interests and the legitimate public interest in ensuring access to life-saving medicines for HIV/AIDS and other critical diseases, in protecting biodiversity, and in protecting the traditional rights of farmers and indigenous peoples to utilize seed and other natural materials. Open-source software and similar public domain information sharing should be promoted, rather than restricted, by trade agreements.
• A commitment to development
Trade agreements must reflect a clear commitment to sustainable development, particularly for the world’s poorest countries. This should include the support of developing country initiatives that promote social and economic development and/or preserve the environment. Developing countries should further have the right to delineate critical sectors that will not be subject to straitjacket liberalization. Aid and assistance should be given to help manage any disruptive impacts of trade or market liberalization, and the benefits of market openings must be equitable for each trading partner.
• Democratic participation and state sovereignty
Trade negotiations and dispute resolution activities should be conducted in a democratic and open manner, allowing all stakeholders equal standing to participate. During trade negotiations, governments should provide public access to negotiating documents. State and local governments must be given an opportunity for prior consent on issues that affect their sovereignty. Within the agreement itself, there must be an open, transparent, and accessible dispute resolution system based on established state, national, and international legal systems.
WFTC Positions and Endorsements
• Co-sponsor of CAGJ “Strengthening Local Economies Everywhere”
The WFTC is a proud ongoing sponsor of the “Strengthening Local Economies, Everywhere” Dinner and Fair organized by the Community Alliance for Global Justice. This annual event has been held since 2007 in Seattle. The goal of this event is to educate and inspire the public to take action to build alternatives to corporate-led globalization. The event will help strengthen alliances between the burgeoning ‘buy local’ and sustainability movements, and the fair trade and global justice movements in the Northwest. Together we can work to ensure that people everywhere have healthy local economies, in which workers, immigrants and small farmers are treated fairly. (Ongoing)
• Employee Free Choice Act
The Washington Fair Trade Coalition has endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that aims to ensure the rights of workers to join a union if they choose. The right for workers to organize is clearly linked to our mission to create a fair global trading system in which core workers’ rights, community values, and our environment are safeguarded. (Spring 2010)
• 3-country Declaration of Solidarity with Mexican Campesinos
The Washington Fair Trade Coalition joins hundreds of other civil society groups from Mexico, Canada, and the US in a statement of solidarity with Mexican farmers’ and indigenous organizations who are working to halt the agricultural trade liberalization that is destroying the Mexican countryside, rural communities, indigenous peoples and farmers, driving them into economic exile. We support their proposals to rebuild Mexican agriculture, food sovereignty and rural development. …full declaration(February 2008)
• HR 2634 – Jubilee Act of 2007
The Washington Fair Trade Coalition joins social justice and other groups to endorse HR 2634, the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation of 2007. This legislation cancels impoverished country debt; removes harmful economic conditions from the cancellation process; mandates transparency and accountability; and establishes a framework for more responsible and transparent lending practices in the future. This is timely legislation. Congress is seeking to find a new direction for international trade policy, and we contend that debt cancellation should be one component of a new, pro-active agenda on trade. This would help level the economic playing field and encourage healthy, fair economic relations between countries. (Fall 2007)
• International Day of Action Against Big Box Retailers
The Washington Fair Trade Coalition endorses International Day of Action on November 17, 2007 against the 5 largest supermarket chains in the world, including Wal-Mart. This day of action will call attention to the issues with Big Box Retailers, including worker rights violations, buyer power abuses, unsustainable distribution practices, destruction of local independent businesses and small-scale farming, and exploitation of agricultural and other labor. (Fall 2007)
• Supporting SLAP’s call for a DSP Program at UW
The Washington Fair Trade Coalition applauds the success of UW SLAP – Student Labor Action Project – as they work to establish a Designated Supplier Program at UW. This policy change will insure UW-branded materials come from suppliers that have been designated as fair employers. (Spring 2007)
• Building Sustainable Futures for Farmers Globally
The Washington Fair Trade Coalition believes that trade policy should support sustainable agricultural practices, and must not restrict governments’ ability to safeguard their food supply, rural development programs, and small farmers. As a consequence, we endorse the “Building Sustainable Futures for Farmers Globally” Campaign. (Fall 2006)