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Ten Reasons Canada Should Get Out of NAFTA

By David Orchard | Global Research | June 19, 2018

For months Canadians have been inundated with claims from the government, various and sundry industries, and the national punditry, that NAFTA is good for our country, even necessary, and that “renegotiated” it will be even better. In the aftermath of US president Trump’s recent visit to Canada, virtually the entire Canadian political class has completely abandoned the vision of an independent, sovereign Canada. From the prime minister on down they rush to Brian Mulroney, the architect of the integration of Canada into the US, for direction and advice on how to “save NAFTA.” The door is now wide open for our country to take a different route, to reject NAFTA and build a nation which controls its own economy and destiny. Here are ten reasons why Canada should free itself from NAFTA, not enter more deeply into it.

One: Under NAFTA US corporations have the right to sue Canada for any law or regulation which they do not like and which they feel contravenes the spirit of NAFTA. US corporations have sued Canada 42 times under NAFTA, overturned Canadian laws and received over $200 million in NAFTA fines, plus approx. $100 million in legal fees, from Canada — and have filed claims for some five billion more. Why would any nation give foreign corporations the right to sue it and dictate its laws? (Canadian corporations can also sue the US. They have tried several times and failed each time.)

Two: Under the FTA, which is part of NAFTA, Canada agreed to never charge the Americans more for any good that we export to them than it charges Canadians. Why would Canada ever agree to such a provision and what in the world does it have to do with free trade?

Three: Canada agreed that it would never cut back on the amount of any good, including all forms of energy, that it sells to the US unless it cut back on Canadians proportionally at the same time. Why would Canada agree to deny its own citizens preferential access to their own resources?

Four: Except for a few exceptions, Canada agreed to allow US citizens and corporations to buy up Canadian companies and industries without restriction. They have taken over thousands of Canadian companies, from both our national railways to our retail industry to our grain companies. In 1867 the US purchased Alaska for $7 million. It is now purchasing Canada just as surely.

Five: Under NAFTA Canada’s standard of living has not risen, it has fallen. The real wages of Canadians are dropping steadily, and the divide between haves and have nots has soared.

Six: NAFTA is not free trade. It is the integration of North America into a continental economy. Integration means assimilation and that for Canada means the end of our country.

Seven: Locked into NAFTA Canada loses its ability to be an independent country. We see our country following the US on the world stage, even attacking and bombing small nations that have done no harm to Canada because, some of our leaders suggest, we must follow the US because our economies are so intertwined. (Then we watch some of the same leaders wringing their hands over the agony of the fleeing refugees our bombs have helped to create!)

Eight: Farsighted Canadian leaders have repeatedly warned their fellow citizens against free trade with the United States. John A. Macdonald called the very idea “veiled treason” because it meant giving control of our nation to a foreign power. George-Etienne Cartier said the end result would be union with United States, “that is to say, our annihilation as a country.” Robert Borden called free trade “the most momentous question” ever submitted to Canadians “not a mere question of markets but the future destiny of Canada.” John Diefenbaker called on Canadians “to take a clear stand in opposition to economic continentalism” and the “baneful effects of foreign ownership.” Pierre Elliott Trudeau called the FTA “a monstrous swindle, under which the Canadian government has ceded to the United States of America a large slice of the country’s sovereignty over its economy and natural resources.” John Turner called it “the Sale of Canada Act.”

Nine: In its early days Canada had no income tax. It used the revenue from tariffs on imported goods to finance the operation of the country and it had little or no debt throughout much of its history. Today after three decades of “free trade” with the US, Canada is carrying a record $1.2 trillion in federal and provincial debt and the tax burden on ordinary Canadians increases year after year. The rate of homelessness and use of food banks has escalated, public institutions and programmes on which citizens rely have been cut, while record amounts of raw resources are being poured across the border at fire sale prices.

Ten: Canada’s economy is roughly one tenth the size of that of the US. If we do not protect our industries, our sovereignty, and our economy, our country will be absorbed into the United States. This means the end of the dream of an independent Canada standing among the world’s nations with pride and dignity. It need not be so. Both the FTA and NAFTA have cancellation clauses. With a simple 6 month’s notice Canada can withdraw without penalty. All three NAFTA countries are members of the World Trade Organization and our trade with them would simply revert back to WTO rules, under which we did much better than we have under NAFTA, and without any US corporate right to sue us or buy up our country.

***

David Orchard was twice a contender for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. He is the author of The Fight For Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. He can be reached at davidorchard@sasktel.net

Read more:

Canada: “A Northern Power” Once Again? NAFTA, “A Monstrous Swindle”

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Colombians Increasingly Joining Strike

Prensa Latina | August 24, 2013

Bogota – More and more sectors continue joining the nationwide strike in Colombia, expressing their unhappiness with government economic policies, amid strong tension in the wake of police repression, detentions and blockage in 33 roads in several departments.

The situation is worsening, with no solution in sight. The Executive has reiterated it is ready to talk, but not before the strike is ended and blocking of roads lifted.

President Juan Manuel Santos said yesterday that 30 persons have been brought to justice for blocking roads, “some of them charged with committing terrorism, facing over 20 year prison sentence.”

The day before the protests started, Santos had ordered police to act firmly against those blocking the roads.

Leaders of the protests have urged police to stop using force excessively and abusing power.

The first six days of protest left over 175 detainees and heavy damage worth some $25 million USD.

But protesters are determined to remain in the roads until their demands are heard by the government, whose policies against the workers and people in general limit their rights, privatize institutions and hand over the country’s resources to transnationals.

Boyaca remains the worst-hit department, with over 16 roads totally blocked.

Footage of police repression has been posted on the Internet.

The strike has also been strong in Bogota, and today more than 1,000 storekeepers of main wholesale chain Corabastos are expected to march toward Bolivar Square to support the protests, with people demanding to stop immediately the Free Trade Agreements that are hitting the people, mainly in rural areas.

“No More FTA, No More Riot Squadron (ESMAD), No More Privatized Seeds, No More Mega-Mining, No More Corruption,” ex Senator Piedad Cordoba wrote in a message on Twitter, where Colombians are massively backing the protests.

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

The Path of the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the US

By Ariela Ruiz Caro | Americas Program | June 1, 2012

Eight years after negotiations began in May 2004, the U.S.Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) came into force on May 15.

Negotiations began together with the four member countries of the Andean Community that are beneficiaries of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), which permits the entry of products not traditionally tariff-free into the U.S. market. One of Colombia’s central reasons for the FTA lay in ensuring that such tariff preferences were made permanent, since ATPDEA officially expired on December 31, 2006.

Businesses that exported under this program—especially in the textile and floriculture sectors in the case of Colombia—pushed hard for the FTA. They believed that it would allow them to gain competitiveness against other countries that did not enjoy similar preferences, and to be on equal terms with those who already had them.

The governments sought to shield important aspects of economic policy—like the treatment to foreign investment, liberalization of the services sector and strengthening intellectual property protection, among others—against the probable intent that a new administration would try to change them. The consolidation of economic liberalization would, according to authorities, attract foreign investments that generate jobs.

In this evaluation, the Andean governments dismissed the fact that tariffs are not currently the main barriers to access to industrialized country markets. They also did not consider that as the United States continued to sign FTAs such with other countries, as it was clear they would, the Andean region would lose its advantages.

Indeed, the U.S. government, as well as the European Union and Japan, use free trade agreements as a way to establish trade and economic rules that in the multilateral World Trade Organization cannot be implemented because of the resistance of a significant number of developing countries.

The Trade Act or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) of 2002-which authorized the United States government to negotiate FTAs with other countries, says that the expansion of international trade “is vital to national security. Trade is critical to the country’s economic growth and leadership in the world.”

The same act states that trade agreements maximize opportunities for critical sectors of the U.S. economy, such as information technology, telecommunications, basic industries, capital equipment, medical equipment, services, agriculture, environmental technology and intellectual property. The TPA indicates that trade creates new opportunities for the United States, thus preserving its economic, political and military strength.

The process of meetings to achieve the FTA was extensive. What started as a joint negotiation (Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, with Bolivia as an observer) ended with individual negotiations. Peru was the first to secure the signatures of presidents Toledo and Bush in December 2007 and came into force in February 2009, while Bolivia and Ecuador rejected the FTA following changes in their governments.

Venezuela withdrew from the Andean Community in April 2006 and applied for incorporation into Mercosur, arguing that “the free trade agreements by Colombia and Peru with the United States of America have formed a new legal body that attempts to assimilate the rules of the FTA within the Andean Community, changing de facto its nature and original principles.”

While the presidents of Colombia and the United States, Uribe and Bush signed in 2006, the U.S. Congress did not ratify the act because of complaints from some quarters in Congress and civil organizations that pointed to violations of human rights and labor laws. After lengthy negotiations, and commitments made by acting President Santos, the act was ratified by Congress in October 2011. Meanwhile, the tariff advantages achieved under the ATPDEA were renewed annually.

Myth of the “special relationship” under FTA

With the enforcement of the FTA, Colombian authorities hope to convert the country into an export platform for those countries that “do not enjoy privileged relations with this large market, such as Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela.” Government officials from Peru and Chile had previously expressed the same hope.

However, experience shows that these hopes did not become reality for Colombia’s neighbors. Sales to the U.S. market have lost momentum. In Peru, for example, exports to the United States fell 4% in 2011 over the previous year, although the total exports increased by 28% in that period.

The United States dropped from being the top destination for Peruvian exports, to the third–after China and Switzerland. In 2006 24.2% of Peruvian exports were destined for the U.S. market, in 2011 they were only for 12.7%. By contrast, imports from the United States, which in 2006 represented 16.4% of total imports, in 2011 increased to 19.5%. The U.S. has managed to reverse its trade balance with Peru, which has gone from a surplus favorable to Peru of $3.26 million in 2006 to a deficit of $1.52 million.

It is true that in this evolution the [exchange rates] of local Latin American currencies against the dollar have had a major impact, but the slowdown in growth and consumption in the United States does not predict a scenario favorable for emphasizing exports to the United States.

In his speech to the State of the Union in January this year, President Obama proposed a recovery of the economy based on boosting local manufacturing. He proposed tax cuts to companies that invest in the country, tax increases to those established abroad and measures to increase U.S. global market share, creating “millions of new customers for U.S. products in Panama, Colombia and South Korea.”

Colombia should be asking itself: Who really benefits from the Free Trade Agreement?

Ariela Ruiz Caro is an economics graduate of the Humboldt University in Berlin, with an MA in Economic Integration from the University of Buenos Aires. She does international consulting on trade, integration, and natural resources for ECLAC, the Latin American Economic System (SELA), the Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL), and other organizations. She worked for the Comunidad Andina from 1985 to 1994, as an advisor to the Commission of Permanent Representatives of MERCOSUR from 2006 to 2008, and is a writer for the Americas Program.

Translated by Yasmin Khan

June 6, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Path of the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the US