free trade

Australia Finds out "Free" Trade Ain't So Free After All

By way of Public Citizen, there is a new 400 page report on Australia's six NAFTA style trade agreements that concludes they ain't doin' much for their economy, Bloody onkus mate.

The Productivity Commission has told the government there is little evidence to suggest Australia's six free-trade agreements have produced substantial commercial benefits

Millions of dollars of taxpayer funds has been paid out to multinational corporations due to corporate lawsuits filed under NAFTA's investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

The Age reports Australia is losing millions to free trade agreements, over copyrights of all things.

Copyright provisions inserted in the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement could eventually cost Australia as much as $88 million per year as the nation pays an extra 25 per cent each year in net royalty payments, ''not just to US copyright holders, but to all copyright holders''.

The copyright provisions extend payments from 50 years after an author's death to 70 years and enshrine in Australian law ''rules that would otherwise be anti-competitive such as permitting the use of region codes on DVD players''.

The provisions have saddled Australia with copyright obligations ''even higher than in the US … because we matched their higher level of copyright protection but have maintained our lower level of copyright users' rights'', the report says.

Obama Does a "Lose-Lose" by South Korea Free Trade Agreement

Remember all of those promises during campaign 2008 to finally reform trade and stop NAFTA like trade agreements? Chalk up another one to the win elections rhetoric dust heap. While Obama claims this NAFTA style Bush era trade agreement is the very ole and tired corporate-speak win-win, odds are it's another lose-lose. A loss for the American people and a loss for Obama himself in 2012.

Obama has announced a new trade agreement with South Korea. There is just one new tweak that is better than before, the tariff schedule on autos.

The new agreement calls for South Korea to reduce its tariff on U.S. auto imports from 8% to 4%, and fully eliminate it in five years.

Meanwhile, the 2.5% U.S. tariff on auto imports will remain in place until the fifth year, instead of being immediately eliminated as specified in the 2007 agreement.

Here's what Public Citizen said about the auto tweaks:

Merely tweaking the “cars and cows” market access provisions of Bush’s NAFTA-style Korea trade pact but leaving in place the offshoring-promoting foreign investor protections is a slap in the face to the majority of Americans who, according to repeated polls, oppose the same old trade policy that has cost millions of American jobs.

South Korea Free Trade Agreement Will Cause 159,000 Americans to Lose Their Jobs

Economist Robert E. Scott has cranked the numbers on U.S. job losses if the South Korean Free Trade Agreement is passed. Yet another bad trade deal would cause 159,000 Americans to lose their jobs over 7 years.

EPI’s research shows it will increase the U.S. trade deficit with Korea by about $16.7 billion, and displace about 159,000 American jobs within the first seven years after it takes effect.


A Free Trade Challenge May Be Yielding Jobs

(Via Campaign for America's Future) Remember back in September when the Obama Administration imposed tariffs on Chinese tires. Well, its decision to challenge the old "free trade" religion may have resulted in AMERICAN JOBS:

Findlay's Cooper Tire will add 100 new jobs

“Last year at this time we were worried about losing Cooper,” said Sehnert.

Now the company has announced a $10 million dollar investment in the plant, mostly in automation.

With the company's expansion comes the real good news for Findlay residents, 9.1% of whom are unemployed.

The plant will need to fill 100 new jobs.

A Free Trade Test for the Obama Administration

On September 17, President Obama will have to decide whether to accept the U.S. International Trade Commission's recommendation to impose tariffs on imports of Chinese tires. Here are the findings of the USITC. And here is their final determination:

On the basis of information developed in the subject investigation, the United States International Trade Commission (Commission) determines, pursuant to section 421(b)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974,1 that certain passenger vehicle and light truck tires from the People’s Republic of China are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities or under such conditions as to cause or threaten to cause market disruption to the domestic producers of like or directly competitive products.

And How Does Globalization Benefit Us?

I believe it is time to question the benefits of globalization. We were told that globalization would benefit all nations. Sure, maybe in the short term but in long term and sustainability globalization may not be the answer.

I am not advocating "protectionism". Frankly, I am not sure what am advocating right now. But I know this: globalization has not been the "win-win" that "free trade" proponents have argued.

Globalization is not sustainable because it supports a downward pressure on wages and encourages and requires insatiable consumption of resources and cheap consumer goods. But the financing of the consumption, particularly by consumers, is not by higher incomes but by higher amounts of debt. Globalization may only lead to more "boom/bust" cycles in the future.

What's Wrong with Tariffs?

I'm reading another of the recent rash of books which concern development policies in the third world over the past 50, or so, years. This one, "Bad Samaritans" by Ha-Joon Chang supports protective tariffs for countries trying to establish their own domestic industries without having to worry about the competition from already dominant foreign firms.

This is part of a small, but increasingly vocal, heterodox movement which disagrees with the conventional wisdom that "free trade" is the correct solution to all international economic issues. I'm not interested in rehashing the arguments, other than to point out that the "protectionists" can point to some rather successful examples that illustrate their thesis. In this book, it is the author's home country of South Korea.