On November 8, 2007, the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was passed in Congress. Though this agreement does contain some notable improvements with respect to trade in illegal timber, multilateral environmental agreements, and labor rights, these improvements are only the first steps towards the establishment of a sustainable model for future trade agreements.
Please read the September 2007 joint Sierra Club-Friends of the Earth statement on this agreement.
Passage of the trade agreement by Congress was only the first step towards implementation; FTA implementation was supposed to be based on the Peruvian government's demonstrated improvements to environmental and labor law. Despite the concerns of environmental, labor and indigenous organizations over a failure to demonstrate those improvements, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the agreement would enter into force on February 2, 2009.
Fears about the FTA's impact on the environment and indigenous rights are increasingly being validated. In an attempt to hurriedly comply with demands of the Peru-U.S. FTA, President Alan Garcia implemented a series of controversial legal reforms with the potential to increase illegal logging in the rainforest, usurp land and natural resources from indigenous communities, and authorize water privatization in the Peruvian Amazon. These reforms have given rise to widespread outrage in the indigenous community. Protests led by the indigenous rights group, Inter-Ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP), have included more than 12,000 indigenous Peruvians from 65 ethnic communities.
The Peruvian government's reforms have led to a rush of private investment in natural resource extraction in the Amazon, with investors desperate to access billions of dollars worth of oil, minerals and timber. In order to meet corporate demand for such natural resources, the government has delayed the issuance of communal land titles to indigenous groups and continues to break promises to meet with indigenous and environmental groups about the contentious new land rights decrees and forestry laws.
In an effort to secure implementation before the end of the Bush Administration, revisions of these controversial laws were stalled, and the trade agreement was enacted at the last minute. Now, environmentalists and indigenous people have few alternatives for stemming the takeover and destruction of the Peruvian rainforest.
Regrettably, despite the urging of organizations like the Sierra Club against implementation, the U.S. government may now be implicated in further Amazonian deforestation and appropriation of indigenous land.
·Read a November 2008 joint-NGO letter in advance of the implementation of this agreement
·Certification of U.S.-Peru FTA Should Not Be Rushed: January 2009
·Read the statement released by Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Earthjustice, NRDC and other environmental groups have written about progress in the Peru-US Free Trade Agreement.