The Trends Behind the Latest "Free Trade" Agreements

November 14, 2011

With the bipartisan, nearly unanimous support of both parties, a South Korean Free Trade Agreement, a Panamian Free Trade Agreement, and a Colombian Free Trade Agreement have been passed in Congress and signed into law by Obama. These three FTAs are patterned on the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) which took effect in 1994 in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) which took effect in 2005 in the U.S., Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. Accordingly, these three latest agreements will eliminate most barriers to trade and investment between the U.S. and the respective countries. As a result the FTAs will facilitate U.S. capitalism's penetration and take-over of the economies of South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

Some of the major provisions and effects of the recently passed "free trade" agreements:

The U.S. government and capitalist class is eager to implement more FTAs. Currently, a trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement involving the U.S. and Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Vietnam, Chile and Peru is being negotiated.

The U.S. now has FTAs involving 20 other countries. The FTA with South Korea -- a country with a population of nearly 50 million and a GDP of over $1 trillion -- is the largest since NAFTA. The passage of these three new FTAs, like NAFTA and CAFTA before, accelerates trends which are already inherent in present-day capitalist-imperialism.

Inside the U.S., the capitalist monopolies, which dominate our entire economy, are continually working to "rationalize" and "downsize" production, to shift factories to "low wage" areas, including abroad, in order to maximize profits. For the workers, this means greater unemployment, constant job insecurity and downward pressure against wages.

On a world scale, U.S. capitalism continually seeks new markets, sources of raw materials, and more workers to exploit by penetrating and taking over the economies of other countries. In Latin America, U.S. capitalism aims at nothing less than the virtual annexation of the countries of the region.

For workers in the U.S. and the peoples in Latin America and other countries, the only way out is through the path of struggle.

In addition to opposing "trade" agreements like the three recently signed into law, U.S. workers must wage continual struggles against lay-offs, unemployment and for job security.

We must develop a political struggle to force the government to recognize and guarantee the right of everyone to a job or a livelihood.

At the same time, we must support the struggles of the peoples in South Korea, Panama, Colombia, and other countries who are fighting against U.S. corporate exploitation and domination, who are fighting to defend their national and economic sovereignty and secure their inalienable economic rights. In Latin American countries alone, millions of working people have come out in protests and demonstrations against "trade" agreements like the Panamanian and Colombian agreements, demanding amongst other things, protection of the public sector of the economies of those countries.

The root question is the "economy for whom?" According to the authors of the "trade" agreements and the capitalist class generally, the entire economy of the U.S. and the world - the land and the natural resources of the world, the factories and other economic infrastructure created by the working classes over generations and generations, even the very lives of the workers themselves and the fate of whole nations - belong to the capitalist class, to a handful of exploiting parasites. The peoples - those whose labor created all the material blessings - have no say-so and no rights whatsoever. Thus whole towns in the U.S. can be destroyed because the capitalists close down factories and move abroad to grab greater profits. Thus, in countries such as South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, the forests, the water supplies and even the right of the peoples to health care must be surrendered to the appetite of U.S. imperialism.

Control over the economy is the starting point of control over life itself. The freedom and future of humanity is linked with getting control over the economy and putting it in service of the needs and rights of the people themselves.