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Free Trade Agreements
Free Trade is the economic theory that the market should be allowed to flow without government intervention. Purists want to get rid of all trade tariffs, subsidies, and protectionist economic policies. Free Trade stops commodity prices from fluctuating uncontrollably, so prices reach market equilibrium and supply meets demands. The promotion of “free” trade is an important part of the neoliberal economic agenda (known in poor countries as the “Washington Consensus”). This agenda, which benefits large transnational corporations, is the core of such trade agreements as the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
We should not be fooled by the name “free” trade agreements. The cost of “free” trade agreements is the rollback of labor rights and human rights--bothe in the US and abroad--to pave the way for corporate-led globalization. These agreements create huge stumbling blocks for small independent producers. They push more people into poverty while increasing the wealth of an elite few. Think about it: Large agro-industrial farms run by big corporations can afford to sell commodities at lower prices, while small family farmers are driven into debt.
These trade deals give corporations and market forces control over the people and provide little or no environmental protections or worker rights. Small-scale producers are left behind as large subsidized companies take over industries.
It is important to recognize the large difference between free trade and fair trade practices. All trade agreements must have strong and enforceable provisions to protect workers and the environment.
Find out what trade deals are currenlty being pushed by the corporate elite and how you can work to improve them (or stop them, if we have to!) . Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.citizen.org/trade/ .