Category Archives: Trade

The WTO doesn’t help the people of any country

Back during the 2004 democratic presidential primary debates I remember and supported then Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s motivation for getting the United States out of the World Trade Organization (WTO). He made it one of the main planks of his campaign. Even though I was and still consider myself to be a Deaniac (supporter of Howard Dean), I really did appreciate Kucinich on the issue of trade.

Here’s what being a member of this organization gets the American people:

“The WTO’s continued assault against commonsense food labels is just another example of how corporate-controlled trade policy undermines the basic protections that U.S. consumers deserve,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter in response to the news. “The United States should appeal the ruling and continue to fight for sensible consumer safeguards at the supermarket.”

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said the ruling speaks to how international trade deals weaken U.S. consumer, environmental and other protections: “Today’s ruling spotlights how these so called ‘trade’ deals are packed with non-trade provisions that threaten our most basic rights, such as even knowing the source and safety of what’s on our dinner plate.”

For the past thirty years or so there hasn’t been a trade deal or trade partnership that has benefited any citizen of any country. These deals only enrich the 1 percent at the expense of labor and the environment. One of the saddest realities to come to terms with is to witness what the Obama administration is doing on the issue of trade.

Back in the 2008 presidential election cycle then candidate Obama heavily attacked Hillary Clinton for being a strong supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If we fast forward six years, you will now see the Obama administration pushing for fast track authority to negotiate a trade deal that is even worse than NAFTA in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The scary thing is that there are even more horrible trade deals out there that the neoliberals want the U.S. government to adopt.

Photo by djbones

Could the TTIP allow GMOs into the EU?

A trade deal between the EU and the US may allow genetically modified foods (GMOs) into the European market.

Among these concerns is that if the TTIP is implemented, the import re-inspection at port of entry would no longer happen because the U.S and EU food safety systems would be recognized as “equivalent,” which, for example, could inadvertently allow genetically modified agricultural products into the EU food supply.

I don’t have faith in the U.S. regulatory and political structure to stand up to Big Ag. I’m hoping that the people in these European Union countries will take to the streets to stop the likes of Monsanto and others from damaging their food supply with GMOs. We simply cannot let bad U.S. corporatist policy to run wild.

A left-right coalition to sink the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

While I often rail against conservatism and the obstructionism of the Republican-led Congress, ultimately I am a believer that politics is still the art of what’s possible. So now that we are beginning to see conservative voices emerge in opposition to the Obama administration’s quest to pass the TPP trade deal; I’m intrigued about the possibility of a coalition of groups from both the left and right getting together.

If “Obamatrade” catches on as a right-wing rallying cry against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade agreement covering the Pacific Rim economies of Australia, Japan, Malaysia, among others—it will probably have something to do with a sparsely attended press conference on Tuesday in the House Science Committee hearing room. That’s where the American Jobs Alliance and the United States Business and Industry Council —pro-business groups wary of trade’s impact on America’s national interests—joined with Tea Party Nation and the socially conservative Eagle Forum to rail against the TPP and President Obama’s support for “fast-tracking” the measure. The legislative procedure would prevent Congress from amending the agreement once it’s completed by international negotiators.Without fast-track, Congress is considered unlikely to approve the deal in its current form.

While the right side of the argument against the TPP trade deal harbors a lot anti-Obama sentiment and angst against other progressive causes, their other reasons for opposition to this trade deal can be similar to those on the liberal/progressive side of the ideological spectrum. One of those reasons would be ceding power to the executive branch over negotiating this trade agreement.

An Obama and ALEC alliance?

When Bill Clinton sought to pass NAFTA, he did it by ramming it down the throats of everyone who helped get him elected. His allies in labor and congressional Democrats were thrown aside as the president cozied up to the likes of Henry Kissinger and even an ailing Richard Nixon to ramp up support for the trade deal’s passage among Republicans.

Now another president may seek to walk in Clinton’s shoes and pass a trade deal that will be worse than NAFTA by walking all over his base.

John Nichols writing in The Nation. says:

In fact, if Obama decides to ramp up his advocacy for a free-trade strategy that progressive Americans tend to see as a threat to workers, farmers, the environment, human rights and democracy, he won’t be able to count on many traditional allies to stir up grassroots support in the states. That’s one of the reasons there remains considerable uncertainty about whether the president really will—in a speech that is expected to focus on income equality—spend substantial time talking up a trade agenda that has drawn broad opposition from House and Senate Democrats and so much of his base.

If the president does go all in for the TPP, he will find himself in strange company—with groups that promote policies that critics argue are responsible for the growing gap between a wealthy few and an increasingly impoverished many.

It just so happens that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s really sad that history will once again repeat itself if Senate Democrats aren’t able to railroad giving the White House “fast track” authority to screw American workers again.

Stopping Fast-Track is One Way We Can Block TPP

Stopping Fast-Track is One Way We Can Block TPP (via EFF)

Congress members introduced a bill yesterday to “fast-track” trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress. If passed, lawmakers would only have a small window of time to conduct hearings over binding trade provisions…

Continue reading Stopping Fast-Track is One Way We Can Block TPP

Comparing trade agreements to the East India Company

This is such a fascinating comparison, the author of this essay compares trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the TPP to the old British East India Company.

Under NAFTA, TPP and TTIP, global corporations who are unhappy with some court decision — even one from our Supreme Court — can take that issue to a sympathetic corporate-dominated trade tribunal.

Consider an example from history: The East India Company administered a century of corporate rule in India during an earlier age of globalization. The East India Company ran its own courts under its own authority, for its own interests. This was great for British colonialists. Not so good for India.

Trade agreements could bring deadly food to the U.S.

When it comes to international trade agreements both the Democrats and the Republicans have both  failed the American people. When candidate Obama was running for the presidency in 2008 he criticized Hillary Clinton for siding with NAFTA. Now as president he’s signing us on to similar if not worse agreements.

Just look at what two trade agreements portend for these shores.

Designed to grease the wheels of world commerce, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would force the U.S. and other participating countries to “harmonize” food safety standards. That means all countries that sign on to the agreement would be required to abide by the lowest common denominator standards of all participating governments. So for instance, say Vietnam allows higher residues of veterinary antibiotics in seafood than the U.S. allows, and Vietnam and the U.S. both sign on to the TPP. As a trade partner, the U.S. could be forced to lower its standards to allow for imports of seafood from Vietnam – or face a lawsuit by the seafood exporter for depriving the company of future sales of its products in the U.S.

This is what U.S. Trade Representative is all about. Our elected leaders are selling out their own people in favor of multinational corporations who will benefit from cheap imports into the United States. Sure they’ll talk about how much the country will now be able to export overseas but this never turns out to be exactly the case.

Korea trade deal a failure. Surprised?

The U.S. trade deficit in goods with South Korea tripled during the first full month the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement was in force, amid a slight decrease in the overall U.S. goods and services deficit that month, according to April trade data released last week by the Commerce Department. The bilateral FTA went into effect on March 15.

via Eyes on Trade: Korea trade deficit balloons under NAFTA-style deal.

Cheap imports at the expense of a deficit in exports.