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THAT’S ROT/ WE SIDE -STEP DivroNmENTAL LAWS AND SAFEIY.STAgDARDS MoVING Facrotim.sotrri4-111E &ET tiriumrrED ACCESS TO YOUR CHEAP 1-A EM AND’ RESOURCES AND YoU GET UNUMTED ACCESS 1D Cuk tirtJaiutl WAGES AND ToxiC WASTE! MATT WUERKER GATT’s All, Folks Trade Agreements Are the Real Teeth in the New World Order BY JAMES RIDGEWAY Washington, D.C. S INTEREST IN the disaster in Iraq dwindles, it is more than possible that the turmoil in the Middle East may reappear closer to home in Canada and Mexico, which are suffering, in a different way, from the strain of being asked to toe the line of George Bush’s New World Order. As with the Opium Wars in 18th-century China or the coup in Salvador Allende’s Chile, the war in Iraq was an example of Western gunboat diplomacy that set limits on indigenous control of regional resources, in this case letting Saddam Hussein know that he could not unilaterally interfere with the production and distribution of oil. The result is that Saddam remains in power as a sort of hostage in reverse, ensuring that Iraq \(since any oil without permission of the United States. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are both broke. The economies of the nations of South Asia, long dependent on the gulf sheikhdoms, are hard-pressed, and the world environment has been irreparably harmed. And just what is the New World Order that is causing all this hardship? In essence, it is a calculated effort to reorganize the world’s trading patterns on a North-South axis through the General Agreement on Trade and regulating trade, and through a series of bilateral free-trade agreements, most immediately in the case of the United States with Canada and Mexico. The issue will come to a head in the next six weeks when Congress decides whether to continue to confer “fast track” authority on President Bush, which forces yes-or-no votes on these international trade agreements. The bone of contention here is trade between the developed world and the Third World, between the northern and southern hemispheres, in which the United States and other industrial nations attempt to gain inexpensive raw materials and at the same time create new markets for their manufactured goods and services. This trade has little to do with academic notions of the free market, since it is dominated by a small number of large transnational corporations, nation states, and entrepreneurs. While the press talks about shortages, world trade is organized principally around an effort to control not shortages but surplus in the interests of the developed world. It’s not a matter of finding enough James Ridgeway writes for the Village Voice, where this article first appeared. food, for example, to feed all the hungry people in the world, but of ensuring profits to the corporations and elites who control the flow of food through the world’s markets. As the major economic satrapy of the United States on the North American continent, Canada is expected to provide a growing share of energy resources for the next century. In recent times we have come to regard the place as a resource bin into which we dip as deeply as need be. Following the bitter 1988 election and implementation of the free-trade agreement, there was a rash of mergers with attendant loss of jobs. Small Canadian companies either closed up or planned for closing in the face of competition from much larger American companies, as Randy Robinson recounted in the Multinational Monitor. Canadian branches of American firms closed to rationalize their operations it became possible for U.S. companies to increase production a little, sell into Canada, and close down their Canadian operations. For example, when Gerber Canada announced that it was transferring production form its Niagara Falls Canada plant to the company’s headquarters at Freemont, Michigan, 150 Canadian jobs went down the drain. The move was attributed to “greater efficiencies” at the U.S. plant. Meanwhile, the free-trade deal did not guarantee Canadian producers access to United States markets. When American farmers protested the export of Canadian pork into their market, the United States put an eight-cents-per-kilo tariff on Canadian pork, costing Canadian pork-processing jobs. Ultimately, the Canadian Labor Congress calculated that instituting “free trade” with the United States cost Canada 105,000 jobs. There was little new investment, and Canada’s control over its natural resources continued to ebb. Next came the “harmonization” of Canadian social policy under the terms of the Free Trade Agreement. Canadian business attacked its government’s social spending at levels that were higher than those in the United States, claiming the taxes they were paying placed Canadian companies at unfair disadvantage with United States firms. The conservatives successfully cut social spending, regional development, farm supports, and unemployment benefits, reducing them to levels closer to the United States programs. Hundreds of millions of dollars were cut from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the transcontinental railroad system a symbol of Canadian unification. After Canada and the United States entered into what President Reagan at the time called “an economic constitution for North America,” they both participated in a conference on the threat posed by global warming. Nations were called upon to limit carbon emissions by 20 percent by the year 2000. Energy policy was to be reoriented to favor energy efficiency and conservation. But when THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15