APEC Essay, Research Paper
The question is “Can the Canadian government maintain its committment to globisation without comprimising its stand on human rights and why or why not?” The answer is no. Canada’s committment to globalization comprimises 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 grouping of 18 “economies” which aims to impose a “free trade” zone in the Asia-Pacific region. Despite the rhetoric, there is nothing free about “free trade.” It is the forced changing of rules to benefit corporations at the expense of people, governments and the environment. As Joan Spero, the US Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs said, “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.”
The Termination of our Social Safety Net
In theinternational market, there are cut backs made on employment insurance, welfare, education and health care are they are made under the excuse of luring investment. 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 plumetted from 50% in the 60’s, to less than 8% today. 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 nagative effects on the Environment
APEC and “Free trade” agreements like it, reduces international environmental standards by making the process of moving between states easier for businesses. In order for there to be compition, countries are obliged to slacken their environmental regulations to the lowest they can be by law. Canadian mining industries, which have been know as some of the bigest global polluterson the planet, have been abusing trade agreements like APEC by transfering 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.
The Corrotion of Human Rights
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 andGeneral 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 goverenmet is concerned with human rights, when in reality, it is business that they are really conscened with. Constructive engagement, for Canada, means voting againast 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. (2)
We should perhaps examine what’s happening on our own territory, in addition to giving support to dissidents overseas. Canada and the US are recongized as profesionals 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 Cooperation 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. .
Assumptions of APEC
Small Businesses will Prosper
Small businesses will actually end up weakening due to APEC. Without the benifit to large-scale government subsidies that are handed over 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 an period of monopolistic capitalism, where a few major corporations can afford to play the game and because of that they can 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 1oo countries not even 50% are countries. On top of that, 70% of international trade is controled by 500 transnationals. (1)
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, hasvdone 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 inregard to overlooking the abuse to human rights within countries such as China. What if APEC decided to take 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?
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 strickly 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 an prospect for cultural exchange, but it’s not. Opportunities for cultural change will continue to exist without APEC as they always have. (1)
APEC an informal chit-chat. Although APEC agreements are often described as non-binding, this assumes that everyone comes to the table on equal footing. However, there are huge vested interests and imbalances of power at play. While the rules may remain somewhat flexible for the US and Japan, weaker nations will be forced into compromising positions.
In essence APEC is an attempt by the powerful developed nations to pry open the weaker economies in the Asia Pacific region. APEC is a colonialist tool, wielded by wealthy nations to exploit the environment and cheap labour of less prosperous nations.
APEC will Result in Increased Prosperity for Everyone
APEC means prosperity for investors and the business elite. This will be accomplished at the expense of the rest of us. Since the Canada – US free trade agreement, corporations have been experiencing record profits, yet the income of the poorest fifth of Canadians has dropped 20%. APEC will continue this erosion of wages and working conditions. Labour will be forced to make concessions in order to compete with workers in countries such as Indonesia, where trying to organize a union can get you killed. APEC encourages child labour, and sweat shop working conditions. It is these sub-human labour practices which lure investment from companies like Nike. While the world is being made borderless for capital and corporations, human beings remain trapped in poverty. This is not about prosperity, this is about more poverty for more people.
There are No Alternatives
No is an alternative. There are plenty of international organizations and conferences aimed at making the world a better place to do business. Making the world a better place, however, is left to underfunded NGO’s and a few toothless UN bureaucracies. If the will exists to reduce tariffs and government budgets, then why shouldn’t the will exist to reduce poverty and the size of the military? If we can negotiate “Free Trade” then we can also negotiate the dismantling of corporate rule. There are models for Fair Trade. There are always alternatives.