Apec And Globalization Essay, Research Paper
The question is “Can the Canadian government maintain its commitment to globalization without compromising its stand on human rights and why or why not?” The answer is no. Canada’s commitment to globalization compromises it’s stands on human rights for different reasons. The main reason being APEC. The following paper will ague just that and how APEC is causing many problems in societies all over the world.
APEC is a group of 18 “economies,” these economies have a goal and that goal is to inflict a “free trade” zone in the Asia-Pacific region. Regardless of the term free, there is no deal in “free trade”, there’s nothing free about it. APEC is the compelled change of rules done in the interests of corporations at the expense of the environment, the government and the people. According to Joan Spero, the US Under-secretary of State for Economic Affairs, “APEC has a customer. APEC is not for governments, it is for business. Through APEC we aim to get government out of the way, opening the way for business to do business.” (1) APEC`s language reveals it’s particular phenomenon. The words “government”, “state” and “nation” are lacking, and are replaced by the words “economies” and “members.” Apparently these modifications were done in order to reconcile interrelations between Taiwan and China, but in doing so it has also managed to diminish labour, democratic, environmental, and human rights issues in APEC fora.
The Termination of our Social Safety Net
In the international market, there are cut backs made under the excuse of luring investment on employment insurance, welfare, education and health care. Any word of increasing taxes is extinguished by corporations forewarning to withdraw for a “preferable” business environment. Regardless of the skyrocketing profits, corporate contributions to tax revenues have plummeted. During the 60’s it was 50% and now it’s less than 8%. It is suspected that it’ll be sooner then later that Canada will adopt the impoverished American model – no safety net, just cold concrete.
APEC has negative effects on the Environment
APEC and “Free trade” agreements similar to it, reduces international environmental standards by making the process of moving between states easier for businesses. In order for there to be competition, countries are obliged to slacken their environmental regulations to the lowest they can be by law. Some of the biggest polluters on the planet, such as Canadian mining industries have been abusing trade agreements like APEC by transferring to countries where they may operate without being disrupted by environmental protection. “Free trade” has already granted a ghastly amount of power to businesses, permitting them to effect government policy. (1)
The Corrosion of Human Rights
APEC`s stress has always been on liberalization and commerce, this is evident in their policies and statements. APEC believes commerce and liberation to be the foundations in order to improve well-being. “Concerns about human rights, labour standards, environmental issues, and social equity are either downplayed or considered irrelevant to the mission and mandate of APEC. But, it is clear that APEC promotes a particular world vision, one that equates globalization with liberalization of trade and investment.” (3) Secretary of State (Asia Pacific), Raymond Chan, expresses our governments position, affirming that “discussion of human rights and social development might impede progress on economic and trade issues.” We give praise to and give special treatment to mass murderers such as Jiang Zemin of China and General Suharto of Indonesia, when APEC pays a visit. Jiang Zemin was compliant in the Tiananmen square massacre, referring to it as “much ado about nothing,” and was liable for the heavy crackdown that ensued. Suharto is accountable (among other things) for the appeals from dissidents in both countries, Canada withholds their position on human rights and refuses to take a stand against it’s abuses. (1)
In order to save their reputation, Canadian government puts through “constructive engagement”. Constructive Engagement is a policy that allows the people of Canada to believe that the Canadian government is concerned with human rights, when in reality, it is business that they are really concerned with. Constructive engagement, for Canada, means voting against or abstaining from every UN resolution condemning Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor. However, we persist in the selling of weapon parts to the Indonesian military. Ultimately, “Constructive engagement” means we have a fatal fall back from life or death issues. (1)
We should perhaps examine what’s happening on our own territory, in addition to giving support to dissidents overseas. Canada and the US are recognized as professionals in the area of maltreatment of native peoples.
There’s no democracy in APEC
Although it’s only been sice 1989 that APEC has been around, most people have probably only heard about it recently due to it’s arrival in Vancouver. This is not surprising as APEC functions through closed door meetings of politicians, big business representatives, bureaucrats, and academics. The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), is the only institutional presence in APEC, that is not apart of the government. ABAC is made up of CEOs. Those who are affected most by APEC’s policies have no say in APEC deliberations and policies. APEC does not function in isolation unlike some other organizations. Fundamental resolutions about our lives are made on an every day basis by economists and bureaucrats that represent establishments such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO). According to the Director General of the WTO, Renato Rugiero, “We are writing the constitution of a single global economy.” (1) Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and other treaties like it termed “a bill of rights for investors,” are secretly being drafted. These issues will transform the way society lives dramatically and there are no public debates on these issues. (1)
APEC Cultivates a Society of Consumption
Many trade agreements including APEC don’t just concentrate on commodities, they are all for turning our existence into a commodity. In the eyes of APEC, all the aspects of peoples lives are looked upon in terms of profit. .
5 Assumptions of APEC
There are five assumptions that people make about APEC. These are the following: APEC will aid small businesses to prosper, APEC is inevitable, APEC provides great opportunity for Dialogue and cultural exchange, APEC increase prosperity for everyone and the last assumption is that there are no alternatives. As stated above, these are assumptions and as the saying goes to assume makes and ass out of you and me.
Small Businesses will Prosper
Small businesses will actually end up weakening due to APEC. Without the benefit to large-scale government subsidies that are handed out to big corporations every day and without cheap resources and cheap labour, small businesses simply cannot compete with the big ones. We are approaching a period of monopolistic capitalism, where a few major corporations can afford to play the game and because of that they are the ones who set the rules. There are more and more companies merging together and being bought out, it’s common for this to happen now a days. Today, 51 corporations and 49 countries make up the 100 biggest economies, not 100 countries not even 50% are countries. On top of that, 70% of international trade is controlled by 500 transnationals. (1)
Great Opportunity for Cultural Exchange and Dialogue
In order to defend their corporate agenda, the supporters and leaders of APEC have had the tendency to drag out the corpse of “cultural exchange”. APEC is strictly about business and that has been made distinct from the beginning, “APEC has been business driven from the start, a feature that sets it apart from many other regional trade bodies.” This quote can be read in a Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs document entitled An Open Door for Canadian Business, APEC is believed to be a prospect for cultural exchange, but it’s not. Opportunities for cultural change will continue to exist without APEC as they always have. (1)
APEC treaties are frequently reported as non-binding, however APEC is not casual diner conversation. One can assume from all this that “everyone comes to the table on equal footing” (1), well once again that assumption is wrong, there are large imbalances of power at play. However, the regulations may abide considerably resilient for Japan and the US, more fragile countries will be compelled into positions of comprimization.
Realistically speaking, APEC is the undertaking of the more wealthy, powerful countries to pry open the less powerful and less well-to-do economies in the region of the Asia Pacific. nations.
Endeavours to make any positive modifications to the agreement are fruitless, since the entire founding of APEC is defective from the outset. It is therefore no surprise that Canadian participation, thus far, has done nothing but serve to promote APEC’s corporate agenda. Canadian, Australian and US business interests are encouraging other APEC involved countries to liberalize their economies rapidly, more rapidly than these other countries would like. The Canadian government has declared that it does not have a will to take on critical social issues within APEC. Canada is even becoming worse then America in regard to overlooking the abuse to human rights within countries such as China. What if APEC decided to take a positive stand on these imperative issues, would we as Canadians really want corporations to be sharing the responsibility of making decisions about certain issues, for example, environmental protection?
Increased Prosperity for Everyone
The only people who are going to see increased prosperity from APEC are investors and the business elite. And it will be only be attained at our cost, that of the people. Ever since the Canada – US free trade agreement, income of the most impoverished 20% of Canadians has dropped 20%, yet businesses have been seeing record profits. This decrease in working conditions wages and will continue due to APEC. In order to stay in competition with labourers in nations such as Indonesia, it will be compulsory for labour to be paid for in allowances, it is in countries like Indonesia where you can get killed for attempting to institute a union. Child labour, and sweat shops and those types of working conditions is promoted by APEC. Companies like Nike have been losing customers and potential investors due to these subhuman labour practices. People linger entangled in poverty, mean while the planet is losing more and more of it’s boarders for capital and corporations. APEC is not increasing prosperity for everyone, it seems to be increasing poverty if anything. (1)
There are No Alternatives
Not having APEC is an alternative in itself. There are numerous conferences and international organizations who’s goals are making the world a better place to do business. If there is a possibility to reduce government budgets and tariffs, then why isn’t there a will to reduce the size of the military and poverty? Why can’t we negotiate the dismantling of corporate rule if negotiations of “Free Trade” are possible . There are paradigms out there for Fair Trade. Where there is a will there is a way, nothing is impossible.
In conclusion, the question “Can the Canadian government maintain its commitment to globalization without compromising its stand on human rights and why or why not?” has been answered and proven. It is very obvious that Canada can not maintain it’s commitment to globalization without taking away peoples human rights and it’s all because APEC and the effects it has on the business world.
1) APEC FACT SHEET – html://www.cs.ubc.ca/spider/fuller/APEC_Alert/fact_sheet.html
2) Tujan, Antonio, APEC and Imperialist Globilization html://www.cs.ubc.ca/spider/fuller/APEC_Alert
3) The APEC AGENDA – July 1997 – www.vcn.bc.ca/workers/wk_ngo2.html
4) Clark, Tony, Unmasking the Political Agenda of Transnational Corporations in APEC and the Process of Globization