NAFTA NAFTA

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Introduction

You may have heard terms like NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement), FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas), free trade and globalisation. You may be aware that some people are violently opposed, willing to risk their lives to protest. Never do the news commentators explain why. I am going to do that for you. It turns out the protesters in general are in favour of free trade, just opposed to the way it has been implemented. It also turns out the politicians have pulled a boondoggle so outrageous it is hard to believe they are getting away with it.

Background

In 1992 Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the American President George Bush Senior and Mexican President Salinas signed a free trade agreement called NAFTA. It took effect 1994. It dropped duties on trade between the countries and made it easier for companies in one country to invest in the other two. So far so good.

The negotiations were arduous. To push negotiations along, at the last minute, the Americans tried a bluff, a bargaining chip they intended to push then withdraw. This was the famous chapter 11 you will hear so much about. Chapter 11 has nothing to do with bankruptcy; it is a section of the agreement that gave outrageous powers to foreign corporations. To the American negotiator’s surprise, the Canadians accepted it.

In 2002, negotiations are underway to extend NAFTA to include 31 new North and South American countries. This new agreement called FTAA has an even stronger version of chapter 11.

Protests are heating up. The Canadian government announced it would shoot free trade protestors. The right wing Bush administration in the USA and the right wing Harper government in Canada have funded a propaganda blitz to persuade the public that anyone who has any reservations about NAFTA is a raving lunatic.

Soon after the US petroleum production had peaked, official policy began emphasising free trade as a global panacea for unemployment, underdevelopment, and virtually every other economic and political ill. Through the manipulation of the rules of global trade, the US sought to maintain and increase its access to natural resources worldwide. Those rules — written primarily by US-based corporations and encoding in policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF (International Monetary Fund)), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organisation (WTO (World Trade Organisation)) as well as treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — essentially said that wherever resources lie, they must be available for sale to the highest bidder. In other words, whoever has the money to buy those resources has a legally defensible right to them. According to those rules, the oil of Venezuela belongs to the US every bit as much as if they lay under the soil of Texas or Missouri. Meanwhile technology, or intellectual property, was regarded as proprietary; thus nations with prior investments in this stragetgy were at an advantage while underdeveloped nations were sysetatically discouraged from adopting it.
~ Richard Heinberg (born: 1950-10-21 age: 63), The Party’s Over
In other words free trade and globalisation are a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose game rigged in favour of the USA. That is partly how the USA, with only 1/20 of the world’s population, manages to hog most of the planet’s resources.

The Case Against NAFTA in a Nutshell

What is the Matter with the Free Trade Agreement?

There are many complaints, most centering around chapter 11. The agreement gives foreign corporations the right to sue the government for any lost profit and any lost future profit as a result of any government action, even when the corporation was selling a harmful or dangerous product.

You may be coughing just now, saying preposterous, no government in their right mind would hand over such a blank cheque to foreign corporations. That was my reaction when I heard about it Bill Moyer’s documentary Trading Democracy. Keep in mind who made the agreement — Mulroney and Bush senior, men known for promoting the interests of the corporations over citizens. Because Chapter 11 gives the corporations the right to sue for billions in lost profit, it gives foreign corporations immense political power as well.

  1. The agreement gives foreign corporations the effective power to overturn anti-pollution legislation.
  2. The agreement gives foreign corporations the effective ability to overturn court decisions, even those of the supreme court.
  3. The agreement gives foreign corporations the effective right to overturn the rules for organic food labelling. If a foreign corporation loses sales because their products don’t quality, either the government has to relax the rules to allow them to comply or else compensate them for all current and future lost profits.
  4. These lawsuits are not decided in courts, but by secret tribunals, made up of guess who, industry members! Guess who always wins these lawsuits: the corporations or the federal governments? These decisions override even the supreme court. The new version of chapter 11 wants to keep not only the proceedings secret, but also the rulings. The public will never find out about the billions their government is handing out to foreign corporations in Chapter 11 lawsuits.
  5. Canadians are alarmed that Chapter 11 will be used to challenge water safety regulations. Canadas stringent regulations are according to Chapter 11 a restraint of trade.
  6. Canadians are alarmed Chapter 11 lawsuits will destroy the public health care system. American health providers can sue, since they are losing profits because the government competes with them in providing health care.
  7. Canadians are alarmed the AOL (America Online) Time Warner will use chapter 11 to dismantle the subsidies to help the fledgling Canadian publishing industry. Americans should be alarmed that Mexican agribusinesses could similarly use it to dismantle the extensive American farm subsidies.
  8. Literally, foreign corporations should not even have to pay any taxes at all since that interferes with their profitability. Whether they take chapter 11 that far, foreign corporations still have a huge unfair advantage over domestic ones.
There are two other major problems with free trade:
  1. Trade is not always free. George W. Bush slapped a 33% duty (illegal under the NAFTA treaty) on Canadian softwood exports to the USA, which crippled her lumber industry, the number one industry in the provinces of British Columbia (where I live) and Québec. Most Canadians suspect, but cannot prove, that George W. Bush was arm twisting Canada to get Prime Minister Chrétien to support Bush’s illegal war on Iraq. When that did not work, Bush raised the duty to 47%. Prime Minister Chrétien diplomatically told him to shove it up his nostrils.
    The price of being the world’s only superpower is that its motives are sometimes questioned by others. Great strength is not always perceived by others as benign. Not everyone around the world is prepared to take the word of the United States on faith.
    ~ Jean Chrétien (born: 1934-01-11 age: 80), Prime Minister of Canada
    The USA is a big country and makes up the rules as she goes in her favour.
  2. It weakens the power of the workers. Multinational corporations take jobs wherever labour is cheapest. Jobs moved from Canada to the US to Mexico and from there to China. National unions have no power to compete with slave wages in the third world.

The Actuality

You may say, "Yes, such ripoffs may be possible in theory, but in practice, nothing that outrageous would be allowed to happen." Bill Moyers, a respected PBS (Public Broadcasting System) journalist documented a number of abuses, which I summarise below. All amounts in the following exposition are in: $0.00 USD

Why?

Why would any government in its right mind sign such an agreement that so seriously undermines its own authority?
  1. Politicians get the bulk of their campaign contributions from corporations, and so they do what the corporations want. The large corporations are quite understandably wildly in favour of Chapter 11.
  2. The negotiators of the treaty were lawyers who are now in private boutique practice teaching corporations how to milk the Chapter 11 cow. They put the language in there on purpose so they could exploit it later. The politicians may not have realised how foolish they were being when they signed.
  3. Note that the major news media TV and newspapers have a conspiracy of silence of Chapter 11. Not a one has reported it. Not a one has explained what the free trade controversy is about. All they show are pictures of protestors and fire hoses as if the protests were a form of mindless violence.

Trans Pacific Parntership

This is NAFTA extended for the Pacific rim countries. It exempts foreign countries from Canadian law. It allows a foreign corporations to sue Canada any loss of profit via foreign tribunals. Further, Canada is not permitted to change any environmental or labour safety laws once a foreign corporation makes an investment. Prime Minister Harper is extremely keen on Canada signing this pact because it gives many new rights to corporations and many new obligations to goverments.

Books

book cover recommend book⇒The Truth about Canada: Some Important, Some Astonishing, and Some Truly Appalling Things All Canadians Should Know About Our Countryto book home
by Mel Hurtig 978-0-7710-4166-2 paperback
birth 1932-06-24 age: 81 978-0-7710-4165-5 hardcover
publisher Douglas Gibson 978-1-55199-269-3 eBook
published 2008-04-28 B004HW6GVY kindle
Hurtig points out that if you compare Canada economically before and after NAFTA, all 30 indicators he looked at show Canada was better off before. NAFTA’s purpose is to transfer Canadian sovreignty to corporations. International corporations get rich off NAFTA, but ordinary citizens have just gotten screwed. I talked with Mr. Hurtig at a book signing. He has thousands of facts at his fingertips.
How well do you know Canada?
Statistics about Canada
% statistic
0 percent improvement in child poverty since 1989.
0 percent increase in middle class income, inflation-adjusted income since 1980.
0.75 percent of Canadians who donated to any political party in 2006.
2.4 percent of direct foreign investment that created new jobs, 97.6% was for takeover of existing companies which diverted the profits to offshore tax havens.
21 percent of jobs that are paid too low to provide food, shelter and heat. 8-12% is typical in Europe.
55 percent foreign takeovers financed by Canadian banks.
56 percent drop in foreign aid since 1975.
76 percentage of print and TV media in Vancouver BC owned by one company.
80 percent of Canadians who have never belonged to any political party.
100 percent increase in GDP since 1989.
400 percent increase in share of the economic pie by taken by investors at the expense of workers since 1992.

~ Mel Hurtig (born: 1932-06-24)
Australian flag abe books anz abe books.co.uk UK flag
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German flag abe books.de abe books.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de amazon.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es Chapters Indigo Canadian flag
Spanish flag iberlibro.com abe books.com American flag
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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
book cover recommend book⇒One Big Party: To Keep Canada Independentto book home
by Paul Hellyer 978-0-9733116-0-0 paperback
birth 1923-08-06 age: 90
publisher Chimo
published 2003-01
Paul Hellyer was Canada’s former defense minister. He methodically builds a case that George Bush is out for military domination of the whole planet, which includes Canada. He lets the neocon villains condemn themselves in their own words. Bush it turns out is far worse that your worst nightmares, not only for the USA, but for the entire world. He explains why, if NAFTA is extended with the FTAA, it will be the end of Canada.
Australian flag abe books anz abe books.co.uk UK flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.co.uk UK flag
German flag abe books.de abe books.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de amazon.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es Chapters Indigo Canadian flag
Spanish flag iberlibro.com abe books.com American flag
French flag abe books.fr amazon.com American flag
French flag amazon.fr Barnes & Noble American flag
Italian flag abe books.it Google play American flag
Italian flag amazon.it O’Reilly Safari American flag
India flag junglee.com Powells American flag
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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
book cover recommend book⇒The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracyto book home
by John R. MacArthur, Jr. 978-0-520-23178-8 paperback
birth 1956 age: 57 978-0-8090-8531-6 hardcover
publisher University of California
published 2001-10-16
MacArthur is editor of Harper’s Magazine. People have accepted NAFTA because few people bothered to read the agreement and discover it had nothing at all to do with free trade. It is about giving Americans the same rights as Canadians when it comes to buying up Canadian resources and companies.
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Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.co.uk UK flag
German flag abe books.de abe books.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de amazon.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es Chapters Indigo Canadian flag
Spanish flag iberlibro.com abe books.com American flag
French flag abe books.fr amazon.com American flag
French flag amazon.fr Barnes & Noble American flag
Italian flag abe books.it Google play American flag
Italian flag amazon.it O’Reilly Safari American flag
India flag junglee.com Powells American flag
UN flag Kobo other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.

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