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NAFTA

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade bloc or intergovernmental agreement, between the United States, Canada and Mexico. In trade blocs, regional barriers to trade such as tariffs, are reduced or eliminated. The NAFTA agreement between the three governments went into effect on January 1, 1994. It superseded the 1988 Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States. [1]

Overview

Dick Cheney endorses David Rockefeller sponsored FTAA proposal on C-SPAN.

NAFTA is the template for a series of international trade agreements with the purpose of neutering democratic governments and the marginalizing all but the world's elite. Ostensibly a trade deal, NAFTA is considerably more. NAFTA is not designed to be a free trade agreement but one that enables corporations to supersede governments. NAFTA ensures producers of the cheapest possible labor pool and subordinates federal and local governments to multi-national corporations.

"NAFTA has achieved what NAFTA was intended to achieve. It is the realization of the dream of the corporatists that free-market capitalism should rule the world." Paul Harris, Foul Trade [2]
"The corporate agenda of NAFTA and related globalization treaties is demonstrated most famously by the case of MTBE, a gasoline additive that causes severe damage to human health and the environment. When California phased it out, the Canadian corporation Methanex filed a lawsuit demanding nearly a billion dollars in compensation from the US government for profit lost because of the ban. Under NAFTA rules, corporations have an absolute right to profit with which local laws must not interfere. Poisoning the well is no longer a crime; stopping the free flow of poison is." Rebecca Solnit, Fragments of the Future: The FTAA in Miami [3]

Issues

Canadian & Mexican trucks on U.S. highways

"NAFTA requires all roads in the United States, Mexico and Canada to be opened to carriers from all the three countries. Canadian trucking firms have full access to U.S. roads, while Mexican trucks can travel only about 20 miles into the country at certain border crossings, such as San Diego and El Paso, Texas."[4]
"The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement approved broader access for ground shipments from both countries but the Clinton administration never complied with the trucking provision. A special tribunal ordered the Bush administration to do so in 2001". [5]

In 2007, Congress ordered the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to launch a pilot program to study whether opening the U.S.-Mexico border to all trucks could be done safely."[4]

Swine flu & Smithfield

In 1994, the year NAFTA went into effect, Smithfield Foods established the Perote operations with the Mexican agrobusiness AMSA (Agroindustrias Unidas de México S.A. de C.V.) In 1999, the company bought the U.S. company Carroll's Foods for $500 million and expanded its operations into Perote, Veracruz, Mexico. The first reports of Swine flu came from Perote, Veracruz, home to Carroll Farms and operated by Smithfield. In early March, local health officials announced a health alert and investigation. According to Perote officials, 60% of the population suffered from flu, pneumonia and bronchitis. Federal health officials dismissed the complaints until April 5, when sanitary restrictions were placed on Carroll Farms. [6] According to the company website the Perote facility raised 950,000 hogs in 2008. [7] See also Smithfield Foods, section 6.

NAFTA'S promises vs. reality

According to a report by conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released on November 19, 2003:

  • NAFTA has not helped the Mexican economy keep pace with growing demand for jobs.
  • NAFTA-led productivity growth in the past decade has not translated into increased wages.
  • NAFTA has not stemmed the flow of Mexican emigration to the United States.
  • The fear of a "race to the bottom" in environmental regulation has proved unfounded.
  • Mexico's evolution toward a modern, export-oriented agricultural sector has failed to deliver the anticipated environmental benefits of reduced deforestation and tillage. [8]

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles

References

  1. North American Free Trade Agreement, Wikipedia, accessed July 2009
  2. Paul Harris Foul Trade, Global Policy Forum, October 2003
  3. Rebecca Solnit Fragments of the Future: The FTAA in Miami, Alternet, November 2003
  4. 4.0 4.1 Paul Elias Bush Administration Wants Open Borders, Associated Press, August 30, 2007.
  5. John Crawley, Mexico trucks to roll on U.S. highways, Reuters, September 1, 2007
  6. Laura Carlson Mexico's Swine Flu and the Globalization of Disease, Huffington Post, April 2009
  7. Hog Production Granjas Carroll de Mexico, Smithfield Foods, accessed July 2009
  8. Press Release: Lessons from NAFTA, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 19, 2003

External articles