Oscar Rodriquez on the ‘NAFTA of the Pacific’

catsOscar Rodríguez is coordinator for Mexico, Central America, and Dominican Republic in Public Services International. PSI is a global trade union federation representing 20 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 150 countries. PSI champions human rights, advocates for social justice and promotes universal access to quality public services.

I recently wrote a piece for Sojourners on West Papua (November 2015), which is located on the front-lines of the global trade war between China and the U.S. West Papuans as well as unions and human rights activists around the world are struggling every day to bring human rights and transparency to the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that the Obama administration is pushing through.

As my mother says, “It’s the NAFTA of the Pacific and we know how NAFTA turned out.” Not good.

When Pope Francis talks about “land, lodging, and labor” for all, the details are worked out in these kind of trade agreements. In other words, trade agreements are moral documents. Below is an excerpt from Rodríguez recent overview of international trade agreements from the perspective of the workers:

Over 20 years have passed since the signing of two major free trade agreements in the Americas (NAFTA and CAFTA-DR), without signees like Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic being able to tangibly witness positive advantages as a result of them. On the contrary, the negative effects brought by these agreements have exposed an increasingly unequal trade relationship due to existing inequalities established by the rules of the international free-trade game.

In addition to the already fragile condition of the economies of these countries, the impacts of a new international economic context are starting to be felt in the region. This not only affects exports, stalls economic growth, and depletes social investment; it also clears the way for new free trade agreements that weaken the sovereignty of these countries and removes labor rights and social protections for its citizens.

There are two mega agreements that are being negotiated that fit into this scenario in our region: the TPP (Transpacific Partnership Agreement) and the TISA (Trade in Services Agreement). Both of these agreements are yet another tool to enhance the expansion of a free trade model that is notoriously voracious and perverse, and both are aimed at subduing countries by undermining their sovereignty and threatening their natural resources. — Oscar Rodríguez L. (Read the whole article here.)

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