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Resistance to imperialist free trade grows

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Alice M.

April 18, was the Global Day of People’s Action against the US driven imperialist “free” trade agreements forced on more than 1 billion people around the world.

Tens of thousands of people in more than 60 countries took diverse actions to show their opposition to TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), the US-EU TTIP (TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), TISA (Trade In Services Agreement) and other Free Trade Agreements.  

The stampede of free trade agreements led mainly by US multinational corporations and monopoly finance capital will open up and remove domestic restrictions and obstacles to foreign investment. Free trade agreements aim to abolish all regulations and restrictions on foreign investments - local laws on movement of cheap labour, workers’ rights and conditions, food safety, environment, mandatory food labelling, foreign land ownership, local media and arts content and more.

The most determined and aggressive push for abolition of regulations and restrictions on foreign investments is from the financial sector.
Protests were held in Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Denmark, US, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and in many other countries and corners of the world. 

The broadness of the people’s movement against imperialist free trade was evident from the diversity of people’s organisations taking part in the protests – trade unions, farmers, consumers, health and medical workers, academics, environmentalists, lawyers, scientists, cultural workers, public sector workers, welfare organisations and others. 

The secrecy of the free trade agreements and attacks on national sovereignty and democratic rights were the common threads running through the global protests.

The draconian ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) chapter in most of the free trade agreements has outraged the people around the world. ISDS gives immense power to foreign multinational corporations and financial institutions to sue sovereign governments when domestic laws, restrictions and practices may “harm” or slow down maximum exploitation and profiteering by corporations. The fines could run into hundreds of millions of people’s taxes and intend to deter sovereign governments from introducing laws and regulations that protect people’s health, environment, workers’ rights and working conditions. 

No longer will the US need to exert its pressure on sovereign governments in secrecy to comply with the economic demands of its multinational corporations.  The TPP and TTIP Agreements will legally empower the US Congress to dictate domestic laws for other countries.  The US Congress will be able to directly approve, amend and draft new domestic laws and regulations for other countries to ensure they serve the interests of its corporations and finance capital.

The free trade agreements are a Trojan Horse for slashing workers’ hard won wages and conditions, and crushing organised labour. They’re designed to remove restrictions and open doors to importing of cheap overseas labour, exporting jobs, smashing unions and pushing down local wages and conditions.  Cheap local and overseas labour, widespread casualisation and contract labour is the aim of these imperialist free trade agreements.

Recently a multinational corporation sued the Egyptian government for raising the minimum wage.  The corporation claimed the increase in minimum wage negatively affected its profits.

Free trade agreements provide for foreign investors to refuse to pay certain taxes to sovereign governments.  Under free trade agreements tax evasion by multinational corporations will not even be officially “illegal”.  Local taxes on mining super profits are already being challenged by foreign mining corporations operating in Ecuador and Algeria. 

Persistent struggle by farming and rural communities struggle has forced state governments in NSW and Victoria to place a moratorium on coal seam gas fracking.  Under the TPP foreign corporations could sue governments to cave in to their demands and remove all obstacles to CSG fracking.

The strong public opposition in Europe to TTIP has forced the EU Commission to temporarily suspend negotiations on ISDS.  It is a small, but significant victory for the people of the European Union.

People’s global resistance to economic imperialism is growing.  The US and its multinational corporations and finance capital are more than ever exposed as leading the assault on people’s livelihoods, standard of living, environment, sovereignty and democratic rights.

The interdependency between US economic and military imperialism is clearer than ever.


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