World Trade Organization (WTO) at www.citizen/org/trade/wto/
Established in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a
powerful new global commerce agency, which transformed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) into an enforceable
global commerce code. The WTO is one of the main mechanisms of corporate globalization.
Under the WTO's system of corporate-managed trade, economic
efficiency, reflected in short-run corporate profits, dominates other values. Decisions affecting the economy are to be confined
to the private sector, while social and environmental costs are borne by the public.
In November 1999, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Third
Ministerial Meeting in Seattle
collapsed in spectacular fashion, in the face of unprecedented protest from people and governments around the world.
The WTO and GATT Uruguay Round Agreements have functioned principally
to pry open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of national and local economies; workers,
farmers, indigenous peoples, women and other social groups; health and safety; the environment; and animal welfare. In addition,
the WTO system, rules and procedures are undemocratic, un-transparent and non-accountable and have operated to marginalize
the majority of the world's people.
January 1, 2004
marks the tenth anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s implementation. NAFTA promoters - including
many of the world’s largest corporations - promised it would create hundreds of thousands of new high-wage U.S. jobs, raise living standards in the U.S.,
Mexico and Canada,
improve environmental conditions and transform Mexico from
a poor developing country into a booming new market for U.S.
exports. NAFTA opponents - including labor, environmental, consumer and religious groups - argued that NAFTA would launch
a race-to-the-bottom in wages, destroy hundreds of thousands of good U.S. jobs, undermine democratic control of domestic policy-making
and threaten health, environmental and food safety standards.
Why such divergent views? NAFTA was a radical experiment - never
before had a merger of three nations with such radically different levels of development been attempted. Plus, until NAFTA
“trade” agreements only dealt with cutting tariffs and lifting quotas to set the terms of trade in goods between
countries. But NAFTA contained 900 pages of one-size-fits-all rules to which each nation was required to conform all of its
domestic laws - regardless of whether voters and their democratically-elected representatives had previously rejected
the very same policies in Congress, state legislatures or city councils. NAFTA required limits on the safety and inspection
of meat sold in our grocery stores; new patent rules that raised medicine prices; constraints on your local government’s
ability to zone against sprawl or toxic industries; and elimination of preferences for spending your tax dollars on U.S.-made
products or locally-grown food. In fact, calling NAFTA a “trade” agreement is misleading, NAFTA is really an investment agreement. Its core provisions grant foreign investors a remarkable set of new rights
and privileges that promote relocation abroad of factories and jobs and the privatization and deregulation of essential services,
such as water, energy and health care.
Remarkably, many of NAFTA’s most passionate boosters in
Congress and among economists never read the agreement. They made their pie-in-the-sky promises of NAFTA benefits based on
trade theory and ideological prejudice for anything with the term “free trade” attached to it. Now, ten years
later, the time for conjecture and promises is over: the data are in and they clearly show the damage NAFTA has wrought for
millions of people in the U.S., Mexico
and Canada. Thankfully, the failed NAFTA model - a watered
down version of which is also contained in the World Trade Organization (WTO) - is merely one among many options. Throughout the world, people suffering with the consequences
of this disastrous experiment are organizing to demand the better world we know is possible. But, we face a race against time.
The same interests who got us into NAFTA are now pushing to expand it and lock in 31 more countries in Latin American and
the Caribbean through the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and five Central American countries through a Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Free Trade Area of the Americas at www.citizen.org/trade/ftaa/
The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), currently being
negotiated by 34 countries of the Americas, is intended to
be the most far-reaching trade agreement in history. Although it is based on the model of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it goes far beyond NAFTA in its scope and power. The FTAA, as it now stands, would introduce
into the Western Hemisphere all the disciplines of the proposed services agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) - the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) - with the powers of the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), to create a new trade powerhouse with sweeping new authority over every aspect of life in
Canada and the Americas.
CAFTA: Part of the FTAA
Puzzle at www.citizen.org/trade/cafta/
The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is an expansion
of NAFTA to five Central American nations (Guatemala, El
Salvador, Honduras, Costa
Rica and Nicaragua), and
the Dominican Republic. It was signed May 28, 2004, and passed through the U.S. House of Representatives by one vote in the middle of the night by the U.S. Congress on July 27, 2005. El Salvador,
Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras,
and the Dominican Republic have also approved the agreement. Costa
Rica has yet to vote on the agreement.
CAFTA is a piece in the FTAA jigsaw puzzle, and is based on the same failed neoliberal NAFTA model, which has caused the "race to the bottom" in labor and environmental standards
and promotes privatization and deregulation of key public services.
Due to strong resistance by several of the CAFTA countries’
parliaments who, when confronted by the reality of having to make the far-reaching changes to public health and other domestic
laws required by the agreement are reluctant to actually implement the deal, the Bush administration was forced to delay the
planned Jan. 1, 2006 implementation.