Free Trade Area Of The America Essay

, Research Paper

Follow Up: let’s turn to the real world. The Summit of the Americas is taking place in Quebec City. World leaders and protestors and gathering around one key factor of development – trade. Preliminary talks are underway to develop a “Free Trade Area of the Americas” from Argentina to Canada. Many people have strong opinions about trade. Some of these opinions are better informed than others. If you were hired as an advisor to either the protest groups or the government’s what useful information could you provide them about the risks and benefits of such a deal?

This issue of free trade throughout 34 countries of Americas (except Cuba) has been a matter that has been gaining more and more popularity lately. The talks of escalated electricity in the air have been augmenting as we have been approaching this long awaited conference in Quebec City. In December 1994, at the first Summit of the Americas, the 34 democratically elected Heads of State of the Western Hemisphere agreed to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. However the U.S. are known to be pushing for an earlier completion deadline of 2003. The FTAA is suppose to eliminate trade and investment barriers on virtually all goods and services traded by member countries, reducing prices for consumers and creating new markets for producers throughout the hemisphere. [Office of NAFTA & Inter-American Affairs]. As there s three years left to seek to meet the anticipated deadline to strike an agreement, this meeting that has started this weekend might prove crucial as the draft that serves as the basis for the agreement to be complete by 2005, is shaping up persistently. Besides governments of each country, there are nine negotiating groups (NG) within the FTAA process and each NG has responsible for negotiating a portion of the overall FTAA accord. These nine negotiation groups have been meeting regularly in Miami, which is the site of these negotiations, in order to negotiate the diminution of trade barriers in their subject area. These nine NGs are:

+ Negotiating Group on Market Access (NGMA) Chair – Chile, Vice Chair – Barbados

+ Negotiating Group on Agriculture (NGAG) Chair – Brazil, Vice Chair – Ecuador

+ Negotiating Group on Investment (NGIN) Chair Trinidad & Tobago, Vice Chair – Colombia

+ Negotiating Group on Services (NGSE) Chair – U.S., Vice Chair – Peru

+ Negotiating Group on Government Procurement (NGGP) Chair – Canada, Vice Chair – Chile

+ Negotiating Group on Dispute Settlement (NGDS) Chair – Costa Rica, Vice Chair – Peru

+ Negotiating Group on Intellectual Property Rights (NGIP) Chair – Mexico, Vice Chair – Paragua

+ Negotiating Group on Subsidies, Antidumping & Countervailing Duties (NGADCV) Chair – Venezuela, Vice Chair – Uruguay

+ Negotiating Group on Competition Policy (NGCP) Chair Colombia, Vice Chair Canada

The protestations in the capital of La Bella Province are undoubtedly expected to get hostile and for what has been reported so far, the violence is increasing and the number of protestants is augmenting significantly. It makes you wonder why the need for such a serious demonstration that might prove to be one of the most imposing and most violent protestations we have seen in our country in a while. This has been the talk amongst many of us and the awareness of this campaign is at the highest. Nonetheless, in Qu bec City at the present moment, there s a more than ironic situation. The spot where the negotiations are holding place has been shielded, and the fence has been laid around, almost four kilometers away from the meeting place so that the demonstrators are extensively distanced. What is the point of demonstrating when the leaders can not be accessed by any means and they do not see the protestations anywhere but on television, even though the masses have gathered to have their say only a few kilometers away. What is it the point of protesting? All demonstrations might as well be happening in a different city since the people who will make the decisions can absolutely not feel a hostile vibe as the security is at the maximum around them. Negotiated behind closed doors, with no citizen input but plenty of suggestions from business interests, the FTAA is yet another example of the kind of free-market fundamentalism that has created a global race to the bottom that erodes environmental protection, workers’ livelihoods, and human rights. If you think NAFTA has been a disaster for working families and the environment in the US, Canada, and Mexico, this will be far worse. [Free Trade Area of the Americas]. This comes to prove that the most influential figures will agree on a pact regardless of masses who have gathered all over the place to protest the immoral and unfair side of this deal. Abundant negative effects that will affect us if this deal is to go through are alarming and the massive outcome of demonstrators is not surprising, but the current situation in Quebec is discreditable: “Thousands of police officers are coming to back up what is being called Quebec’s ‘wall of shame,’ and many Canadians are asking whether such separation is necessary, or is anti-democratic overkill” [ 4/10 New York Times ]

As outline previously these are the evident advantages that the folks in favor of global free trade will accentuate:

+ Better access to international markets for Canadian companies

+ Increased competition

+ Cheaper goods and services

+ Better mobility for workers

+ More efficient markets

+ More competitive industries

+ Less government regulation

+ Smaller bureaucracy

+ Lower taxes

Prime minister of Canada, Jean Chr tien stated that globalization is “neither heaven nor hell” but a reality to be tapped. He claimed that “We must together come up with new instruments which will give all the members of our large family a fair and equal opportunity to benefit”. Apparently many nations of Latin America and the Caribbean are now almost uniformly devoted to free trade and regionalism as a strong method of development. As Yedida weighted the situation perfectly, FTAA certainly is a risky deal more for some than other but the facts is that Poor countries have less money to begin with and are dependant upon the money from wealthier countries coming in. For poorer countries, the FTAA would mean more money coming in. For richer countries, the FTAA would mean more goods coming in, and less money staying. Before these agreements are made, countries need to weigh their priorities carefully. [Yedida]

The opposition claim global free trade will lead to these facts amongst others:

+ Lower wages and fewer employee benefits

+ Higher unemployment

+ Lower health and safety standards

+ Lower environmental protection standards

+ Weaker, less effective government

+ Fewer social programs such as health care and education

+ Less protection for developing industries and countries

Besides these previously stated effects, Possible effects of the FTAA agreement on services include:

+ Removal of national licensing standards for medical, legal and other key professionals, allowing doctors licensed in one country to practice in any country, even if their level of training is different;

+ Privatization of public schools and prisons, like in the U.S. which would open the door to greater corporate control, corruption and the cutting of critical corners (such as medical care for inmates or upkeep of safe school facilities) to increase profits; and

+ Privatization of postal services by transferring U.S. Postal Service functions to a few delivery companies like FedEx, which could then send postal rates through the roof.

[ Frequently Asked Questions About the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) ]

If I were hired as an advisor to the protest groups as I believe this is the most favorable side with most valid points I would draw attention to several points that prove that free trade is most likely destined to fail and to put masses of individuals to misery. This deal would create the world’s largest free market zone, affecting 650 million people and $9 trillion in capital. This business deal is to endanger the lives of millions of people and inequality issue is incredibly enormous, as this plan would disproportionately affect women and people of color. The FTAA threatens to amend living conditions by turning over the control of schools, electricity, water, and food to corporations whose sole interest is further revenue. If this deal is to go through, we are presumably to see a massive move of industries from wealthier parts of America, such as Canada and the U.S., to developing countries. How much more profit is a company to make if instead of paying their employees in Toronto perhaps $12 an hour, they simply transfer their plants to Mexico or ever further south and pay the labor force at least ten times a smaller amount. The unemployment rate is to atomically catapult in our regions, and all potential industries that would be build in our state will rather produce their items in third world countries and with free trade the profits are be maximized. Besides the model upon which the whole free trade concept is based has already proven to be unattainable and thus a growing number of individuals and institutions have been pushing for an alternative solution with an international system of cooperation that fosters social equality, with more cultural diversity, equal human rights and above all community well being. The reluctance for free trade is plentifully increasing after Evidence of the failure of the NAFTA model of economic integration continues to mount. In the aftermath of the Mexican peso crisis, the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury insisted that Mexico maintain its commitments under NAFTA by continuing to liberalize trade and investment regimes and by maintaining high interest rates in order to shore up the peso. Higher interest rates, decreased purchasing power of consumers, and increased competition with imported goods have had a devastating impact on small and medium-scale producers and retail businesses. Additionally, some two million Mexicans have lost their jobs, and though such macroeconomic indicators as GDP growth have turned positive in the last few years, the standard of living of most Mexicans has shown little or no improvement. The number of Mexicans pushed into the informal sector and working for less than minimum wage, without benefits, or less than full time has increased dramatically, while the purchasing power of the basic minimum wage has dropped by 24% since NAFTA s inception. [Free Trade Area of the Americas]. The unsustainable, export-driven development model is also destroying ecosystems across the Mexican territory. Perhaps the health issue is more of an alarming one as each day, over 44 tons of hazardous waste from the border region are reprehensively discarded. The amount of birth defects has catapulted severely since NAFTA and has alarmed the international community as some unprecedented specimens have been observed in the regions of maquiladoras as Vik affirmed in the pervious post. With all these facts contradicting the possible success of free trade it is obvious that the corporations and wealthy business owners from the participating countries are the principal benefactors and they ll be the ones to gain financially from a scheme that puts their welfare above everyone else s. The numbers of protestants compare to the number of individuals who are eager for this deal to go through, is far superior and the strong resistance to FTAA seems to point out the right direction.


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