Monday, December 22, 2008

"Trade and the Environment" Obama style

Whenever I hear US government officials talking about how trade deals must not be allowed to harm the environment it is clear all they are really talking about are new and ingenious trade barriers.

Now Obama seems to be jumping on this particular bandwagon. To be fair, the environment comes a poor second to the "workers". Another excuse for higher rather than lower trade barriers.

Historically, recessions tend to lead to greater protectionist policies which exacerbates the recession. It appears history is destined to repeat itself.

Trade Deals Must Protect Environment: Obama [PlanetArk]

WASHINGTON - The United States will insist on strong protections for the environment and for workers in future trade deals, President-elect Barack Obama said on Friday as he introduced his nominee to be chief U.S. trade negotiator.

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk "will help make sure that any agreement I sign as president protects the rights of all workers, promotes the interests of all Americans, strengthens American businesses, and preserves the planet we all share," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago.

The focus on what Kirk described as a "values-driven" trade agenda could complicate efforts to complete the 7-year-old Doha round of world trade talks.

Many developing countries are suspicious of efforts to include binding labor and environmental provisions in trade pacts because they believe they could be used as an excuse by rich countries to block imports.

Obama has promised one of his first acts as president would be to call the president of Mexico and prime minister of Canada to begin negotiations to "fix NAFTA" by adding stronger labor and environmental provisions.

Although Kirk is little known in global trade circles, Obama said Kirk's experience as a big city mayor from 1994 to 2001 prepared him to be U.S. trade representative.

"Ron helped steer one of the largest economies. He's seen the promise of trade, but also its pitfalls, and he knows there is nothing inconsistent about standing up for free trade and standing up for American workers," Obama said.

Obama opposes a free trade deal the Bush administration negotiated with Colombia on grounds that the staunch U.S. ally has not done enough to reduce murders of trade unionists.

He also wants to renegotiate a Bush administration trade deal with South Korea. Obama has said the pact would open the U.S. market to more South Korean cars without sufficiently opening that country's market to more U.S. auto exports.


1 comment:

tapsearcher said...

First of all Free Trade is not trade as historically practiced and defined. Trade is based on trading products per se. Free Trade is primarily based on portable production. Factories are moved from place to place for the sake of cheaper labor. Workers are the real commodities being traded. Workers are put on a global trading block to compete for the same jobs down to the lowest levels of impoverished workers and even children.
In addition it is senseless to talk global warming and protecting the ecology when we have products like the energy saving 8000 miles light bulbs that take 8000 miles of long haul shipping and extensive packaging to get to the USA. This product like many others are also manufactured in dirty conditions. In this case mercury is out in the open during manufacturing cycles.

See ( and node/5297 )

It also does not make any sense to deflate the value of labor and workers. In the USA a new working class has been put in place and outside the country we have underclass workers making our products now.

This is senseless in our economy that is based on making money on money rather than making things.
Workers and labor are a real tangible value and asset acting as a money standard. When the value of workers and labor are deflated, it also deflates the values backing up the printed paper dollars that need manipulations to give images on paper a value.

The first question to ask is this.
Who said we had to compete like this in a global economic arena?

The second question is part of the answer.
Why did the US Federal Government sponsor the moving of factories our of the US starting in 1956 with this "temporary" program never ending.
It evolved into the maquiladora factory program and Free Trade.
After getting it confirmed, President Clinton and the "Contract with America" Republicans rushed $20 Billion dollars to Mexico to save the peso and bail out Mexico. President Clinton also said he would funnel more money to Mexico through the international money funds.

In turn, imports like the PT Cruiser made by $1 an hour workers in Mexico flooded the USA.

Our auto makers and other industry were in essence told - Compete with this!

Obama comes from the same line of Globalist Free Traders. Until he denounces this betrayal of workers everywhere, not much will change.

For more information see and