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  1. #1

    So the world needs free trade

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    Hungry for Trade: The Statue of Liberty is Crying July 18, 2004 By Devinder Sharma

    Every time I fly to New York I make it a point to visit the Statue of Liberty. What was once a symbol of freedom no longer inspires the American nation to carry the flames of liberty across continents. Tired and depressed with untold sadness in its eyes, it speaks volumes of the way corporate America has usurped freedom and democracy -- both human and economic.

    The agony on the face of Statue of Liberty is so remarkably telling.

    For corporate America, freedom means "free" markets, "free" trade and investment. Freedom actually provides unrestricted global access to US capital to do what it likes, where it likes and whenever it likes. Freedom means dwarfing democracy, trampling with the rights of the people, and ensuring that the rich stay rich. The survival of corporate America hinges on the success of "free" trade and investment.

    Strange, that America, the world's most indebted country, able to run its economy by encouraging the dependence of major economies (and now even the smaller ones) on exports to the consumption-led and credit-led United States, makes sure that they invest their supluses in the US dollar bonds. Speculation in currencies, which increasingly and now wholly, dominates the foreign exchange markets, has become the driving force behind globalisation. "Free" trade in reality has become a vehicle of economic illusion.

    The decade of economic liberalisation and free trade -- some call it the 'great decade' -- has actually pushed the poorest of the poor into the dark age. "In the so-called great decade, a very significant hard core of countries ended further behind with more poor people," says the recent annual Human Development Report of the UNDP. Fifty-four countries, almost half of them in Africa, are poorer now than in 1990, and some will not meet the development goals for 50 years.

    The destructive fallout from the emerging global trade paradigm is being felt all over the world, though not in the same magnitude.

    "As leader of the delegation from the United Kingdom, I was convinced that the expansion of world trade had the potential to bring major benefits to developing countries and would be one of the key means by which world poverty would be tackled.

    But my mind has changed," Stephen Byers, a former British trade secretary wrote in The Guardian (May 19, 2003).[nss]"I now believe that this approach is wrong and misguided." Not many of the world leaders will however have the courage and sincerity that Stephen Byers had in at least acknowledging the flaw in his thinking. Nor do political leaders want to accept the realities lest it exposes and reaffirms their visible and invisible connections with the industry.

    Citing a number of examples to prove how the economists and policy makers are misguiding the people to believe in free trade mantra, Stephen Byers says: "Taiwan and South Korea are often held out as being good illustrations of the benefits of trade liberalisation.

    In fact, they built their international trading strength on the foundations of government subsidies and heavy investment in infrastructure and skills development while being protected from competition by overseas firms. On the other hand, there are an increasing number of countries in which full-scale trade liberalisation has been applied and then failed to deliver economic growth while allowing domestic markets to be dominated by imports. This often has devastating effects."

    Zambia and Ghana are both examples of countries in which the opening up of markets has led to sudden falls in rates of growth with sectors being unable to compete with foreign goods. Even in those countries that have experienced overall economic growth as a result of trade liberalisation, poverty has not necessarily been reduced.

    In Mexico during the first half of the 1990s there was economic growth, yet the number of people living below the poverty line increased by 14 million in the 10 years from the mid-1980s. This was due to the fact that the benefits of a more open market all went to the large commercial operators, with the small concerns being squeezed out, he explained. It certainly is an unequal world, and perhaps the most debasing and demeaning of all the world's inequalities is the manner in which the cattle in the rich countries are pampered at the cost of several hundred million farmers in the developing world.

    When I first compared the life of the western cow with that of the Third World farmer, I didn't realize that this would hit the sensibilities of at least some of the economists and policy makers. It has now been worked out that the European Union provides a daily subsidy of US $ 2.7 per cow, and Japan provides three times more at US $ 8, whereas half of India?s 1000 million people live on less than $ 2 a day.

    Trade liberalization has already exposed developing country farmers to ruinous competition, driving down prices, undermining rural wages and exacerbating unemployment. In the Philippines, opening up of corn market in 1997 reduced corn prices by one-third. At that time, US corn growers were receiving US $ 20,000 a year on average in subsidies, while Filipino farmers in Mindanao had average income levels of US $ 365. Between 1993-2000, cheap corn imports from US into Mexico increased eighteen times, leading to accelerated migration from rural areas to urban centres.

    In Central America - Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua - the price of coffee beans have fallen to just 25 per cent of its level in 1960, and the region lost an estimated US $ 713 million in coffee revenues in 2001. In these countries, the international charity Oxfam says, traditionally dependent upon coffee exports, over 170,000 jobs were lost the same year with the loss in wages computed at US $ 140 million. The negative impact was also felt in sub-Saharan Africa, where Ethiopia and Uganda reported huge losses in export revenues.

    In 2000-01, Uganda exported roughly the same volume, but it earned the country $ 110 million, a steep drop from $ 433 million that it notched five years earlier in 1994-95. Ethiopia reported the export revenues dropping from US $ 257 million to US $ 149 million between 1999-2000.

    Ironically, in January 2002, the EU and USAID warned of increased poverty and food insecurity in Ethiopia not realizing that much of the fault rests with their own policies. The list is endless.

    I can go on and on citing more examples, explaining how the "free" trade regime is pushing out small and marginal farmers out of agriculture, and allowing the take-over of farm lands by the industry. The focus of the international trade paradigm is therefore very clear. It is all meant to force open the developing country agriculture markets to the American farm produce. In the name of efficiency and quality, it paves the way for the control of agriculture in the majority world.

    Developing countries are being asked to shift from growing staple foods to more remunerative cash crops. Whereas, corporate America goes on producing more and more of wheat, corn, soyabean, cotton and rice ? crops which dominate the world.

    "Free" trade is meant to ensure that no developing country remains self-sufficient in meeting its own food needs. "Free" trade is fast pushing the world towards a food apartheid - where staple foods are produced by countries on either side of the Atlantic and the rest of the world produces cash crops which meet the luxury requirement of the people in the rich countries. Once the production capability (for staple foods) of the developing countries is destroyed, it will make it easier for corporate America to control the global food chain.

    After all, food is the biggest political weapon. No wonder, the Statue of Liberty has tears in its eyes. If only we could see.

  2. #2

    Re: So the world needs free trade

    How can I put this nicely...

    Bull[nss][nss][nss][nss].

  3. #3

    Re: So the world needs free trade

    Judging by your picture, I can understand how that article was beyond your comprehension. How do you read withat lazy eye and a bag on your head?

  4. #4

    Re: So the world needs free trade



    You're funny Nick. But I digress, I have thoroughly read the article and I do agree to certain points however, the author fails to offer a solution to the problem. I've always said that there is nothing wrong with the idea of a free ecomony or government, its the execution that is the underlying issue. Coporations are only doing what coporations do, and that's make money. But why is America the only problem. What about these multi national multi billion dollar companies that reside in Hong Kong and in Japan? The ecomony controls the world. Its as simple as that. What do you propose? A world wide socialist economy. At least then there's only two classes of people, dirt poor and elitist rich.

  5. #5

    Re: So the world needs free trade

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Burrell


    I have thoroughly read the article and I do agree to certain points however, the author fails to offer a solution to the problem.
    not offering a solution does not negate the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by James Burell
    I've always said that there is nothing wrong with the idea of a free ecomony or government, its the execution that is the underlying issue. Coporations are only doing what coporations do, and that's make money. But why is America the only problem. What about these multi national multi billion dollar companies that reside in Hong Kong and in Japan?
    i think Corporations are doing much more than what they do best!! Corporations are not just about money because money is also about POWER and everything that is conducive to more power, like media manipulation, Social Control etc, i havent researched this at all, but the term multi- gives it away doesnt it, the corporations are global, we would have to bring concrete data to the discussion but my understanding is that the USA has the overwhelming power in this area and my intutions would tell me that the Capitalist system is very much in collusion around the globe


    Quote Originally Posted by James B
    The ecomony controls the world. Its as simple as that. What do you propose? A world wide socialist economy. At least then there's only two classes of people, dirt poor and elitist rich.
    with all due respect , you might not be talking so confidently if you were on the recieving end, and why does everyone reduce the argument to Capitalism or Socialism could it be the parameters for discussion have been inculcated into us by the media, there are other alternatives that do not recieve much exposure from the CORPORATE MEDIA the reason being obvious, the dichotomy of Capitalsim or Socialism will see Capitalism the clear winner since Socialism as has been practised is completely discredited

  6. #6

    Re: So the world needs free trade

    No it doesn't negate the problem, but its not like its something that we haven't heard already. Its one thing to point out the worlds problems, but another to solve them. What would you rather see? Of course the Corporate community runs the world. Its unfortunate, but eh? What to do? Do you think those in power really care? No, of course not. In an ideal society we'd all wear the same clothes, earn the same wages, eat the same thing, drive the same cars. That way no one would have any more than anyone else. It could also be stated that those people that have all the power and all the money are more deserving than those that don't for the shear fact that they've worked their way too them. I don't always think that way, but I do say that there is some truth to it. What about those people that work their way from the rice patty to some million dollar company through some idea? They had the desire and drive to get there. Are we to deny them the money that their success entails? So what if they step on the people that shared their plight years ago? That's just how it is. I don't know anything about you Charles, but I do know that I don't want to be reduced to some slovenly poor individual just so I'm in line with others. I like what my success has given me, as humble as it is. That's what freedom is about. You're free to be as poor or as weathly as you desire. It has less to do with the corporations and more to do with the individual. Or the society they are a part of I should say. They don't desire to do more. But this is all off topic. And it would be nice if the gentleman who wrote the article proposed some way of making it right. Why? I can point out all the failings of the corporate America. What's so hard about that. Now solving the problem... Now that's a hard job.

    But I will agree with you on the corporation being all powerful. But they do employee those people that work for them and thus keep the money in circulation. What about all those people in these third world countries that now have jobs thanks to Dell. What about "Bob" the tech support guy who answers the phone when you have a software problem, who speaks with a heavy accent and is flipping through a manual while you try your damndest to understand him? I bet he thanks whatever gods he believes in that corporate America exists. And yes, it may not last, but while it does, he's living it up too. But, also, what about the real Bob who lost his job when this occured? What about him? Now, my tax money is keeping him in his home with food on the table. Is that right? I don't know. Charles, it aint ever gonna work like it should and that's the bottom line. No one cares for us, but ourselves. Apart from complete anarchy I don't know a solution that will give each individual what they want. Of course, you may find one that gives people what they need, but then you strip them of their desires for something better. Eh? I'm not here to solve the worlds problems.

    And the name's JOSEPH.

  7. #7

    Re: So the world needs free trade

    sorry about the name Joseph, i dont have any problem with people being successful and i dont have any problem with someone having more money than me or more sample cd's, but i do have a problem with people living in conditions of poverty because of greed and inhumanity and theres a big difference. You seem to echo the same conservative ideology as others here, which i find hard to accept because the people who echo this ideology make no distinctions and the underlying message i get from conservatives its just to bad theres nothing you can do about it , just accept it with a guilt free conscience and carry on living within the only possible system, i just question all this

  8. #8

    Re: So the world needs free trade

    No no no. Don't take me the wrong way. Look there's nothing wrong with feeling like you do. I look at injustice the same way. I don't think anyone should live like some do. I've witnessed it on a firsthand basis. Its disgusting how some people go through life. However, every time someone brings it up, they're just pointing it out. Well that's all well and good, but what they never say what the world should do about it. It's just that there is no easy solution. It would involve a massive reprogramming of the human psyche to start with. Then a massive restructuring of society for afters. It hurts my brain to think of all this. The world is a massive cesspole of injustice. Why go around pointing it out all the time? That won't do anything but depress you. I help in any way that I can and that's all that I can do. You can win the small battles, but I don't know that you can win this war.

  9. #9
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    Re: So the world needs free trade

    Quote Originally Posted by charles
    Hungry for Trade: The Statue of Liberty is Crying July 18, 2004 By Devinder Sharma


    But my mind has changed," Stephen Byers, a former British trade secretary wrote in The Guardian (May 19, 2003).[nss]"I now believe that this approach is wrong and misguided." Not many of the world leaders will however have the courage and sincerity that Stephen Byers had in at least acknowledging the flaw in his thinking. Nor do political leaders want to accept the realities lest it exposes and reaffirms their visible and invisible connections with the industry.
    Charles. Stephen Byers, when British Trade Secretary, was an [nss][nss][nss][nss][nss]hole and so are most Guardian readers. The only sensible word in the above paragragh is 'former'. Many thanks.

  10. #10

    Re: So the world needs free trade

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Burrell
    No no no. Don't take me the wrong way. Look there's nothing wrong with feeling like you do. I look at injustice the same way. I don't think anyone should live like some do. I've witnessed it on a firsthand basis. Its disgusting how some people go through life. However, every time someone brings it up, they're just pointing it out. Well that's all well and good, but what they never say what the world should do about it. It's just that there is no easy solution. It would involve a massive reprogramming of the human psyche to start with. Then a massive restructuring of society for afters. It hurts my brain to think of all this. The world is a massive cesspole of injustice. Why go around pointing it out all the time? That won't do anything but depress you. I help in any way that I can and that's all that I can do. You can win the small battles, but I don't know that you can win this war.
    fair enough Joseph

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