In 2008, Barack Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA, the bedrock of our trading system. He hasn’t. Instead, he’s accelerated the negotiations of new deals that operate along those same lines. This podcast is with Lori Wallach, the head of Public Citizen and the scourge of free trade fundamentalists everywhere. She walks us through three deals coming up: Panama, Columbia, and South Korea.
Panama has the strongest bank secrecy laws in the world, stronger than Switzerland, so this deal will open up a new set of havens for US corporations to shelter taxes.
Columbia is known for having its union leaders routinely murdered, a clear violation of, well, labor standards. Also, murder is bad in general, and murder to break unions so as to lower global wages is bad with a cherry on top.
Finally, we get to South Korea. This deal is a weird one, because there are apparently provisions in there that allow the use of North Korean labor to make products and ship them our way, and then use the hard currency generated to help their nuclear program.
Lori has been director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch since 1995. Wallach is an expert on the operations and outcomes of trade policies such as NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA and more. She is steeped in the domestic and international politics of current trade negotiations and disputes.