Thursday, July 30, 2015

TPP and the race to the bottom

My Globe and Mail this morning featured no less than four articles about the Trans Pacific Partnership "free trade" deal that is currently being hammered out in Hawaii.

Free trade agreements should at this point in time be understood as a mug's game, at least from the point of view of regular working folks. They help corporate profits and drag down the standard of living in high-wage countries.

I've been a keen observer of the free trade charade since before NAFTA, when Lyin' Brian Mulroney was campaigning on the merits of the pre-NAFTA Canada US Free Trade Agreement. Every time he saw a camera or a microphone he just kept repeating "jobs jobs jobs jobs..."

A lot of people believed him.

What we had to give up to get that deal was the Canada US Auto Pact that dated back to the early '60s, and which had created a thriving car manufacturing industry in Canada. The Auto Pact was the opposite of free trade; it was a focused trade deal that forced the automakers to build cars here if they wanted to sell them here. Auto manufacturing in Canada has been dying a slow death ever since.

Adding Mexico to the deal under NAFTA sped up the de-industrialization of the Canadian economy. I remember hearing the bullshit about how that one was going to lift all ships; the combination of Yankee ingenuity and capital, Canadian resources, and Mexican dollar-a-day labour were somehow going to combine in some magic formula to make North America an economic utopia.

And I guess it was for the corporate shitbags who closed down US and Canadian manufacturing, simultaneously creating America's rust belt and a manufacturing boom in Mexico.

So when we're told that TPP is far bigger and more important than NAFTA, I shudder with dread. The fact that these negotiations have been entirely shrouded in secrecy doesn't make me feel any better.

They've obviously got a lot to hide.


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