WASHINGTON, DC—Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) released the following statement today on a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report detailing broken labor standards in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). DeLauro is the senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Labor (DOL).

“Every time the United States is debating whether to enter a new FTA we are promised that there will be strong, enforceable labor standards. While the words and promises may be put on paper, this report demonstrates that we are unable to hold countries responsible when they break those standards. An FTA without strong accountability undercuts our negotiated objectives and leaves foreign firms free to abuse workers, cut corners and exploit our inability to enforce the rules that American businesses are expected to play by.

“DOL and the United States Trade Representative do not currently have the capacity to hold countries to the standards they agree to in FTAs. Without more funding we will remain in the dark about why our businesses are being undercut and American jobs shipped overseas. That is unacceptable.

“Countries and regimes that have proven to be bad actors in the past are likely to be bad actors in the future.  The fact that we would sign a deal that includes Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia—which have deplorable working conditions, violate worker rights, restrict free speech and assembly, discriminate against the LGBT community, and treat women as second-class citizens—is unconscionable. Given the history of these countries we should not continue to pursue the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.”