08 fevereiro 2007

A New Fast Track For Unfair Trade

Por Christine Ahn
Fevereiro 08, 2007 no Blog do Norte Americano Tom Paine.

Christine Ahn is a policy analyst with the Korea Policy Institute and Oakland Institute and a member of the Korean Americans for Fair Trade coalition.

Trade representatives from the United States and South Korea are racing against the clock to sign the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement under the “fast track” deadline. With $72 billion dollars traded annually between the two countries, the KorUS FTA would become the second largest trade deal after the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While such a trade deal would normally sail through the halls of the U.S. Congress and the Korean National Assembly, times have changed since the first free-trade regimes rolled into Washington, D.C., and Seoul.

Critics of unfettered trade have had over a decade of evidence revealing how NAFTA has devastated the lives of working people across the continent. In the 2006 midterm elections, 37 members of Congress were elected on a fair-trade platform, ousting pro-free trade incumbents. Newly elected Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia even took the opportunity on primetime national television to challenge the Washington consensus on trade. In response to President Bush’s State of the Union address, Webb said that America's workers should ''expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.''

Congress granted President Bush fast track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, to speed the negotiation of trade agreements; in return, legislators are given 90 days to review the proposed deal before they vote up or down. As this authority will expire on July 1, U.S. and Korean trade representativess will meet in Washington for three days beginning February 11 in a frenzied attempt to smooth over colossal differences in order to come up with an agreement by April 2. Wall Street corporations and South Korean chaebols (trading conglomerates) are salivating at this trade deal that would lower their tariffs and increase their profits.

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