International Trade Agreements (archive)

Green Parties around the world stand for international trade policies that respect the planet's ecology, peoples' social needs, and the self-determination of communities, regions and nations.

The implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) constituted major steps toward internationalization of commerce that, in many instances, superseded the authorities of local and national governments. GATT's World Trade Organization and NAFTA's Trilateral Commission allowed transnational corporations to circumvent national environmental, health, and labor standards and laws. Corporations characterized these laws, intended to protect people and the planet, as impediments to trade. Thus, NAFTA's Chapter 11 allowed corporations to gain restitution if their assets were expropriated (taken by a government).  Corporate lawyers pursued an interpretation that stated that any decrease in shareholder value be considered expropriation, that is, any decrease in profit should be compensated by tax payers

GATT and NAFTA sought to equalize protective regulations at the lowest possible level. Effectively, this was international deregulation of trade. Corporations are, and have been, engaged in a sustained and comprehensive assault on all consumer and environmental protections.   Under GATT, for example, practices that were challenged by corporations included: U.S. Clean air Act rules; U.S. fuel efficiency standards; European regulations on hormones in beef; Thailand's restrictions on importation of cigarettes; Indonesia's halting of rattan exports to protect their forests; the U.S. ban on importation of asbestos; the U.S. ban on importation of tuna caught in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act; and Massachusetts' ban on state purchases from companies doing business in Burma. Under NAFTA a U.S. corporation sued the Canadian government for damages it claimed were caused by Canada's pollution laws on gasoline additives. This trend indicated a deliberate subversion of national sovereignty by multinational corporations. Issues such as child labor, resource conservation, worker health and safety, and environmental protection were, and continue to be, compromised by the unchecked pursuit of profit by corporations.

The inclusion of Low Income Countries (LIC's) into the high-roller world of unregulated global trade also increased the pressure on these fragile economies to become export oriented. This complemented the austerity programs of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that imposed economic colonialism on debtor LIC's (see the Third World Debt section below). GATT and NAFTA also limited a country's ability to regulate foreign investment, and open markets to services such as banking and lending. This resulted in some smaller countries losing control of their own national economies.

The partial failure and mixed success of these corporate strategies stimulated the passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) of 2005.   Then followed the “secret”  dealings of corporations and governments associated with the Trans-Pacific Partnership for Pacific rim countries (TPP), the partnership of NAFTA and Europe (the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement-TAFTA), and the global trade pact  (Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)), with their corporate masters.  These dealings must be stopped.

To foster economic, social and environmental justice in the internationalization of trade, the Green Party calls to:

·    Maintain each government’s authority to regulate the health and safety of its workers, protect its environment, and preserve its natural resources.

·    Implement protective tariffs and trade barriers to protect local, state and national health, safety, labor and environmental standards against lower standards in other countries. These trade restrictions should only be used to promote better environment and labor conditions, and not to protect domestic employers from competition.

·    Counterbalance commerce becoming global by labor unions doing the same. The well- established unions of the developed countries should expand their organizations to assist, or help establish, viable unions in LIC's. [see     Unions plank]

·    Allow countries to refuse trade for human rights, workers' rights, social justice, or other legal and moral concerns.

·    Insist international trade policies, agreements and institutions promote ecologically sustainable economic self-reliance in all countries. [see Third World Debt and Foreign Policy planks]

·    Oppose fast track authority of the U.S. President on trade agreements. 

Prior to June 28, 2015, the International Trade Agreements platform plank was located in the Peace and Non-Violence section of the GPCA Platform; after which it was moved to teh Community-Based Sustainable Economics section.