|The United States had never really change its gunboat trade diplomacy since the days of Teddy Roosevelt! In the lampooning just change Republic of Santo Domingo to Malaysia!|
And for sure without transparency, the public is in no position to form an opinion, and the country will be forever sold to big super Multi-National Corporations (MNCs!)AT the turn of the last century, when American hegemony was on the rise, it bullied nations, including the British Empire, to accept free trade. Over time, the concept became formalised as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was later replaced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Of course, there is nothing wrong with trade agreements generally. Nevertheless, GATT died because there was so much wrong with the international trade regime, especially terms of trade that were skewed in favour of the wealthier economies. Raw materials from the Third World counted for a fraction of the value-added articles manufactured in the First World.
At present, Malaysia is playing host to the 18th round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, conducted behind closed doors in Sabah. Lacking transparency -- arguably a necessity given that this is still being negotiated -- it leaves the public uneasy in a world said to be ruled by transparency. That the rules of democracy should change so when dealing with major economies like the United States, often shameless bullies, is a point of contention. And, the little information that is leaking past the cracks, as in the New Zealand case appear to suggest, there are potentially menacing issues that cannot be ignored.
Take for example the issue of sovereignty. The New Zealand negotiations suggest that if signed, the country will be preparing to make itself more amenable to foreign big business. So amenable will New Zealand be to big business that companies may sue the government for legislation deemed to have cost the company dearly under the process called Investor State Dispute Settlement. These are the major issues. Apparently, there are many others that will not impact well on ordinary Kiwis.
That is what has been pieced together despite the web of secrecy. In Malaysia, the international trade and industry minister has given the public assurances that the people's interests will be protected. The attraction for the country as an exporter is obvious: the combined market resulting from the agreement. There is, too, the obvious advantage for Malaysian multinationals like Sime Darby and Petronas. But worries have been raised on how far the economic penetration of large multinationals will be in this country. Will they involve themselves in building projects, say, and thus take away business from Malaysian companies? The minister has pointedly rejected this notion. Those who are pro-TPP argue for growth and employment as part of a 12-nation trade grouping. A United Nations study commissioned by the ministry supports this position. (Reproduced from the New Straits Times editorial page/July 24th, 2013)