FTAA expands bad
This past weekend
in Quebec City, Quebec, more than 400 people were arrested during
protests at the Summit of the Americas. At the heart of the
protestors' concerns was the call to abolish the proposed Free
Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), for fear that it would cause
harm, similar to the way NAFTA has up to this point.
On Jan. 1, 1994,
NAFTA went into effect in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The goal was to transport goods, services and capital across
national boundaries hassle-free. While in theory NAFTA would
sound like it would be more of a positive than a negative,
its effects are being felt.
For example, here
in the United States, thousands are losing their jobs as American
corporations move their factories to Mexico, where they are
able to pay lower wages, deal with less powerful unions and
benefit from very relaxed environmental regulations.
pockets get fatter while both the American and Mexican quality
of life continues to worsen.
So what is the
FTAA and why is it causing such a stir?
The FTAA is the
proposed expansion of NAFTA in an attempt for the Western
Hemisphere to remain competitive with the recently formed
European Union and the growing economic powerhouses in the
FTAA would affect
34 countries in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean,
excluding Cuba — a total population of 800 million and a combined
GDP of $11 trillion U.S. dollars — making it the largest free
trade-zone in the world.
The concerns of
the thousands of protestors are the effects open trade would
have on other countries, much the way it has thus far effected
the countries involved in NAFTA.
The new FTAA will
offer American corporations the chance to move their factories
to any number of other countries, where they will be able
to exploit their resources and citizens all in the name of
While many who
pushed for the FTAA say that it will help impoverished countries
that are not able to compete with larger countries in the
open market, it is obvious that this will not be the case.
For example, crops
from the U.S. agribusiness were exported to Mexico and sold
at prices so low that many Mexican farmers lost their land
because of their inability to compete. This sort of thing
will now happen on a much larger scale.
should show concern for the FTAA because under it there are
laws designed to "ensure democracy" in free trade
that will affect the quality of products that we here in the
United States and the entire Western Hemisphere will receive.
In other words,
if a country wants to sell a product containing a banned substance
and is not allowed to sell it, it can sue under the terms
of the FTAA.
While all of the
big talk seems to be focusing on raising the quality of life
for the impoverished, the FTAA is nothing more than a cover
that will leave many starving, while ensuring that corporate
profits will continue to grow.
This hardly seems
beneficial to anyone, unless you're already old and rich.
Alex Roman is
a print journalism major at Cal State Long Beach.