What does the word free evoke in your mind when you use it. Something for nothing of course but also something unencumbered by external controls or unrestrained. So when they use the word free with the word trade what would you expect that trade to be like? Wouldn’t you expect that the agreements can take place between the nations without encumbrance from government? An agreement between two businesses without interference from bureaucrats. Well, that is not the case of these agreements at all!
For example, if you go to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the U.S. – Columbia Trade Agreement it is described as the best thing for this nation since sliced bread:
We read about how duty free the goods become. How Obama is opening up new markets that will help our economy. (Uh, this market was closed to us before the agreement? Gee, guess Columbia was economically independent and no producers wanted to trade with us before huh? Whew! Good thing we got this agreement going isn’t it?) And how this agreement will benefit our community because of all the goods we will export to this “rich” nation filled with consumers?
Of course, the fact that illegal immigrants (Oh sorry, “undocumented workers”. Kinda like a sanitation engineer I guess.) also come from Columbia is never mentioned. Don’t see too many people leaving here because of the economy and going the other direction though do we? Wonder why?
The reality is all of these free trade agreements are jam packed with regulations. This is in no way “free trade” in the sense one would think of the word “free”. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is heavily regulated trade under the WTO! These agreements even set up a court system regulated by the WTO of course. Court systems without appeal as well. These systems are international entanglements NOT free trade! Something George Washington warned us against.
Note how many “shalls” there are. Chapter Two for example begins: “Each Party shall accord national treatment to the goods of another Party in accordance with Article III of the GATT 1994, including its interpretive notes…mutatis mutandis” (Meaning changing only what is necessary to be changed.)
Does this sound like “free” trade already with the WTO and the UN involved through GATT 1994? After all according to the WTO– “The GATT 1947 is the very source of the current WTO system because its basic principles have been incorporated into other WTO agreements” It after all provides the dispute settlement provisions upon which the WTO dispute settlement system is built.
The regulations in these agreements are massive and growing. Browse through the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) for example and you will see regulation after regulation, all under the control of the UN agency, the WTO.
And they continue to grow, mutatis mutandis of course.
So, why all these agreements and where are they leading? We’ll look at that in the next post.