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FTAA teach-in at UofC

The University of Chicago hosted the Call to Action (Cta) Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA) teach-in on March 2-4 in Chicago. Cta has been touring the US putting on workshops in regards to the upcoming meeting for the FTAA in April in Quebec City, Canada.
The Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA) is basically an expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But NAFTA has proven to be a nightmare for working families and the environment. A look at NAFTA’s legacy shows why these kinds of "free trade" agreements should be opposed. Working families suffer: In the US, almost 400,000 jobs have been lost since NAFTA, with worker’s new job paying, on average, only 77 percent of the wages of their earlier employment; in Mexico since NAFTA, one million more Mexicans earn less than the minimum wage, and 8 million families have slipped from the middle class into poverty. The environment suffers: In maquiladora zones along the US-Mexico border, the increased pollution and the improper disposal of chemical wastes has dramatically increased rates of hepatitis and birth defects. NAFTA should be repealed, not expanded.

Despite repeated calls for the open and democratic development of trade policy, the FTAA negotiations have been conducted in secret. Discussions around the FTAA began in 1994 when US trade officials, emboldened by the passage of NAFTA, gathered trade ministers from across the hemisphere in Miami for a summit. Meetings continued to be held every few months. The first working draft will be ready in April 2001 in Quebec City, Canada.

The NAFTA experience demonstrates how basic labor rights and the interests of working families are eroded by "free trade" agreements that lack enforceable labor protections. Corporations move high-paying jobs to countries with lower wages and bust unionization drives with threats to transfer production abroad. The export-driven growth model promoted by "free trade" agreements and the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have destroyed ecosystems around the world. Under this unsustainable model, many countries in the Global South cut down their forests, overfish their waters and exploit other natural resources.

The current economic processes known as "globalization" have been defined and driven by a very small number of corporations. Now people around the world are creating an alternative grassroots globalization. Citizens’ groups from across the Western Hemisphere have written an "Alternative Agreement for the Americas" that offers a picture of what socially responsible and environmentally sustainable commerce would look like. (for the document: www.globalexchange.org.)

For more information on the FTAA, NAFTA, and other related campaigns visit:
www.canadians.org/campaigns/campaigns-tradepub-ftaa_intro.html
 
 

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