Whenever there is noise in the media machine, you can be sure some agenda the American people absolutely reject will be enacted. Such is the case with the Obama administration moving forward on three more NAFTA style trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. These are trade pacts multinational corporate lobbyists demand.
The South Korean trade pact increases the trade deficit and puts U.S. workers in more unfair labor competition. Even with a new biased USTR study, littered with fantasy tariff schedules and nebulous additional regulation requirements, cannot hide the fact this trade deal increases the deficit. The new report was requested by Republicans since they didn't like the dismal results of the previous study. Regardless of the spaghetti wording, the bottom line is imports, just in autos & parts, will increase $907 million while exports will increase $48–66 million. In other words, the Obama administration and Congress know this trade deal will increase the deficit and cause further job losses. They want it anyway.
(The image is a 2008 Obama campaign flier. All three of these trade agreements are structured like NAFTA.)
Gets better. Did you know Panama is a tax haven? That the Panama trade deal enables corporations to move offshore, to hid more assets and profits? That the Panama trade agreement undermines what little tax haven legislation the United States has?
Panama is one of the world’s worst tax havens. It is home to an estimated 400,000 corporations, including offshore corporations and multinational subsidiaries. For decades, the Panamanian government has pursued an intentional tax haven strategy. It offers foreign banks and firms a special offshore license to conduct business. Not only are these businesses not taxed, but they are subject to little to no reporting requirements or regulations. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Panamanian government has little to no legal authority to ascertain key information about these offshore corporations, such as their ownership.
Because of this secrecy, precise numbers of the taxes lost to Panama do not exist. However, according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, eliminating tax evasion in tax havens overall could save U.S. taxpayers $210 billion over the coming decade, while the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs estimates a savings five times as great. Since Panama is one of the world’s leading tax havens, the country is likely to account for a significant share of those revenue losses, which could be used to meet other urgent policy priorities at home.
Columbia takes the cake. They like to kill people who try to labor organize. I kid you not, outright murder of workers. The AFL-CIO, who doled out big bucks and their members to get Obama elected, had this to say about the betrayal:
We are deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has signaled that it will move forward to submit the proposed U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement to Congress for a vote in the near future. In our view, the situation in Colombia remains unacceptably violent for trade unionists, as well as for human rights defenders and other vulnerable populations. In addition, Colombian workers face enormous and indefensible legal and practical hurdles in exercising their rights to organize unions and bargain collectively.
Public Citizen's Lori Wallach, called Obama's bad trade agenda damaging, heartbreaking, infuriating and disgusting. Her disdain drips from the type.
With today’s move, President Barack Obama takes ownership of a Colombia-Korea trade agreement package that poses enormous policy and political peril.
Passing the Korea deal would kill U.S. jobs; even official government studies show it will increase the U.S. trade deficit. Passing the Colombia deal would kill any leverage Colombian union, and Afro-Colombian and other community leaders and their U.S. union and civil society friends and allies have to stop the murders, forced displacements and other acts of political violence that dominate life in Colombia.
EPI estimates the South Korean and the Columbia trade agreements will cost yet another 214,000 U.S. jobs:
This Economic Policy Institute analysis examines the likely jobs impact of signing pending FTAs with Korea and Colombia. It shows, based on past experience, that these trade agreements will increase the U.S.’s trade deficit with both countries. Contrary to the Chamber’s projections, the EPI analysis then shows that the increased trade deficit per se will correspond to the loss of 214,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2015.
Whether one is worried about more corporate abuses and tax havens, murder of innocents trying to organize, or good old fashioned U.S. economic growth and American jobs, these trade deals are lose-lose. It seems the only ones who win are multinational corporations. Remember, multinationals really don't have a country, or at least are not loyal to one.