Free trade agreements have little to do with freedom, says economist Jordan Brennan. “It’s led to the radical restructurinng in the corporate sector, which has slowed growth…and exacerbated inequality.”
Brennan’s conclusions in his study “Ascent of Giants: NAFTA, Corporate Power and the Growing Income Gap” (released by the Ottawa think tank the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) are based not only a few years of free trade agreements and their impact. He went back to the beginnings of Canada and examined trade from the 19th century to the present.
He found the trade agreements have created little impact on tariffs, Canada’s tariffs were already low when free trade agreements came into effect.. But the agreements have caused a surge in mergers and acquisitions of companies, and also allowed a surge in lawsuits against the Canadian government over environmental controls and other regulations . Lawsuits which are allowed by the supra-constitutional powers in the free trade agreements and give corporations the right to submit damage claims for alleged “interference” with their “rights.”
Canada has negotiated numerous trade agreements including a Canada-U.S. agreement that came into effect in 1989, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which came into effect in 1994 and added Mexico, to the Canada-U.S. agreement
RCI’s Wojtek Gwiazda talked to Jordan Brennan about the impact of the “trade and investment liberalization” that comes from free trade agreements. Brennan is an economist with Canada’s largest private sector union, UNIFOR.Listen
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – “Ascent of Giants: NAFTA, Corporate Power and the Growing Income Gap” by Jordan Brennan (pdf) – here