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
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.
I read about this WTO ruling against China earlier this week and was meaning to blog about it.
The decision announced today by the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a huge victory for American workers. In clear and unequivocal language, the WTO stated that China’s decision to limit the export of key raw materials violated the commitments China made when it joined the WTO.
People don’t realize how protective an economy China really is. They manipulate their currency and restrict imports. In this case China restricted exports of raw materials because it went against their national economic interests.
Now the WTO is interfering with how we label beef. You can tell this was a bad move because the Cattleman’s Beef Association loves the ruling. I bet they love E. coli too. These people are responsible for Barbara Kowalcyk’s two year old son dying from E. coli.
Consumers, ranchers, farmers and legislators worked hard to pass the labeling rules after seeing ground beef horror stories in Schlosser’s movie and book Fast Food Nation.
Heck, even free marketeers will be upset with the WTO ruling, since labeling transparency allows the consumer to make the free choice as to what kind of product they want to buy without the government dictating the outcome.
I have to agree with Public Citizen when they say:
WTO interference in these types of labeling schemes are likely to further erode support for so-called "trade" deals.
Until we can get trade deals right for the American people then I say no more.