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VOL. VIII, NO. 107
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LONG BEACH
APRIL 26, 2001


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opinion: revelations

FTAA expands bad trade policies

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.

Meanwhile, corporations' 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 Far East.

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 profit.

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.

Finally, people 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.

 

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