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AUDIO FILE: Symposium of the Free Trade of the Americas

On November 17, 2003, in solidarity with those in Miami and around the world protesting the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Lewis and Clark Organization for Peace and Politics and the Campus Greens held a Symposium on the harmful effects of free trade. Two speakers, Martin Hart-Landsberg, professor of economics at Lewis and Clark, and Barbara Dudley, professor of Political Science at Portland State University gave presentations on the FTAA and then took questions.
Martin said that he was going to give the context within which the whole series of treaties, from NAFTA to the Multilateral Agreement on Investments to the FTAA, operate, and Barbara was to speak more specifically about the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Martin began by referring to the FTAA meeting in Miami as an important event in a long series of struggles against what these treaties represent. He quotes from the New York Times an article that came out after the collapse of the September 2003 WTO talks in Cancun. "The WTO was represented as a wonderful opportunity for the third world. What a sad thing that the WTO in Cancun didn't produce anything." Quoting the New York Times: "World trade meetings intended to help developing nations unexpectedly collapsed today, when delegates from Africa, the Carribean and Asia walked out......the Director General of the WTO said,'we must return to the task at hand with renewed vigor, to complete this round of trade negotiations. If we fail the losers will be the poor and weaker nations.'"
The Times articles continues, quoting statistics from free trade proponents, that if the Cancun round would have been successful, "global incomes would have increased by at least $520,000,000,000by the year 2015, and 144,000,000 people would have been lifted out of poverty. Martin continues, "the point is that these things are presented as, first trade agreements, and second, clearly being done by the developed capitalist world for the benefit of the Third World."
These are not trade agreements. They are "more about restructuring economies and limiting national development." Martin further states that "most of these studies which are designed to talk about how much free trade will help everyone are really quite bogus." These studies have built in assumptions: "they assume that there will be full employment...that there is no capital mobility......and trade will remain balanced.... When you read things in the newspapers you got to start by realizing that these are ideological structures of what is actually going on."
Martin speaks for about 18 minutes, a compact, scathing and detailed analysis of the weaknesses and harmful effects of free trade.
Martin Hart-Landsberg

Barbara Dudley, who teaches politics at PSU, first speaks about the founding of the United Nations and the ending of colonialism at the end of World War 11 with the emergence of a number of independent countries, either through revolution or through some sort of negotiation with their former colonial masters. "The U.N. was a whole different world of creation that was happening simultaneous with the so called Bretton-Woods institutions, which are the GATT, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which then morphed into the W.T.O and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank."
Due to the pressure exerted due to the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union, "all these emerging states were having to choose sides in a war that had nothing to do with them, and to choose an economic system that had nothing to do with them . ...Either the hyper capitalistic system of the U.S. after World War 11, or Soviet style socialism."Yet, in the 1970's some of these developing nations, the so called non aligned nations, began to find some space in between the two super powers to develop alternative economic and political agendas for their own countries.
The end of the cold war drastic altered this dynamic. "As the Soviet Union began to lose its power over it's own colonies as it were, over it's own block....all the other countries of the world that were neither Europe, Japan or the U.S. found themselves facing the military and economic power of the U.S. without any buffer.....It was at that time that the U.S. proposed it's agenda in the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade." In this they basically declared capitalism the winner of the cold war conflict and began to dictate to other countries how they were to fit into this capitalist system that now becoming global."
Barbara then moves to the present time, to Cancun Mexico, to the collapse of the WTO negotiations there in September, "when the developing nations essentially walked out of the trade talks for the World Trade Organization and brought at least that institution to a screeching halt. [this] was the emergence of something like the emergence of a new non aligned movement." She then cites a New York Times article from just before we invaded Iraq which declared global civil society to be a new world super power on the world scene. "And what I see happening in reality is that there is room now for a new non aligned movement to emerge between these two super powers. And it is global civil society that is providing the buffer and providing the impetus and forcing their governments, ours included, but all the other governments of the world, to do something which may not be in the interests of their business elites, but instead in the interests of their voting citizens."
There are now 191 countries in the world; 148 of them are now members of the W.T.O. The governments of many of these countries are some sort of Democracy. The ministers attending these Ministerial have to reckon with the wishes of their citizens or their decisions could lead to the down fall of their government.
The presentation continues, addressing the current Free Trade of the Americas meeting in Miami. About 32 minutes in length.
Barbara Dudley
Some websites:
Focus on the Global South

homepage: homepage: http://www.PhilosopherSeed.org

Fixing the link 21.Nov.2003 14:02

Jim eagleye@PhilosopherSeed.org

Just realized that the link to Martin Hart-Landsberg is not working. This should fix it.

Martin Hart-Landsberg