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Archive for the ‘Debt and Trade’ Category

The Bush administration claims that the Central American Free Trade Agreement would bring tougher labor standards to Central American workers. But the agreement, which would encompass the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, would have just the opposite effect. Such was the conclusion of the Department of Labor, only it chose to dismiss the inconvenient findings as “inaccurate and biased.”

Here is what the department was hiding:

Several countries the administration wants to be granted free-trade status have poor working conditions and fail to protect workers’ rights.

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Kevin Danaher, founder of Global Exchange explains the politics of debt relief (mp3, 50 sec)

Finance ministers of the world’s wealthiest nations agreed to wipe out “$40 billion in debt owed by 18 of the world’s poorest countries as part of a major assault on global poverty.” G8 nations (Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Russia) will replenish the reserves of the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund in order to relieve debtor nations of $15.6 billion in payments on the $40 billion over the next 10 years.

“The 18 countries that would qualify immediately for debt relief have already been approved under the World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative, in which they commit to good governance, adhering to an IMF-endorsed financial plan and rooting out corruption.”

Danaher discusses the “structural reforms” countries have to adopt (mp3, 2m-57s)

Critics claim that relief “amounted only to about $1.5 billion in relief per year for the eligible countries. Western experts believe an extra $50 billion a year is needed by African nations to overcome a legacy of poverty, political instability, corruption and disease.”

Danaher details his strategy for greater debt relief. (mp3, 3m-30s)

More Thoughtful Coverage:
John Perkins author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Why do third-world nations find themselves in debt?
What role do U.S. corporations play in their plight?
How does world debt threaten our security?

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Those familiar with the IMF/World Bank and “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” will find the following story troubling, but not at all surprising.

“Iraq’s Industry Ministry plans to partially privatize most of its 46 state-owned companies as part of the government’s plan to establish a liberal, free-market economy. Under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, only Arab countries were allowed to invest in Iraq. But the new commercial laws established by the Coalition Provisional Authority allow foreigners to own 100 percent of Iraqi businesses – the exceptions being those dealing with natural resources such as oil. Iraq has around 200 state-owned enterprises, known as SOEs, and the government wants to partially privatize or completely sell off many of these.

A high number of employees at state-owned companies have expressed anxiety over the privatization plans, fearing job losses and business closures. Last December, more than one million bank workers in India shut down its 26 state-owned banks for a day in protest against the government’s privatization plans.”

The scheme is part of a dominant American foreign policy paradigm–established in the wake of WWII. Hegemony, empire and the corperatacracy are extended economically and militarily. When the former fails, the latter kicks in.

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