I am fascinated by new generation trade pacts, described as the transfer of power from people to transnational corporations.* I find the topic compelling in a repelling kind of way. Despite the discomfort, studying trade offers essential understanding for all of us interested in preserving what is left of natural life and community infrastructure across the globe.
In the late nineties, my professors startled me with the news that “new generation” trade deals give large corporations the opportunity to manage the public’s assets, and sue countries when public laws decrease corporate profits. Should we not ask for more in our global policy?
What if the best in us was put forward for their composition. What if the wisest elder, with a great sense of humour, soft heart, and economic knowledge sat at the table to negotiate? Why not seek robust economy based in real jobs and environmental security? Such global-impact regulations should be approached with loving-kindness and not use as their foundational indicator of success in a relationship between two nations the gross domestic product (GDP). In trade, there is so much more at stake than that. For no child in the Global North will be secure in an insecure world and no child in the Global South, with all its restriction of access to clean water and basic human rights, will be fully nourished. We could take less in the North in exchange for greater security.
We can do better than the new international law creating an Investor state — a trade legal mechanism that permits corporations to sue nations if their profits decrease over the use of public laws. As a North American, the place of birth of the “New Generation” deal, I feel a responsibility to be part of the dialogue to create authentic and fair trade. I am curious about global law after the new generation pact and what else is possible!
People are awakening to speak what is truly valuable. When I think of the people in my city I see so many whose primary desire is security for families, friends and community. This is a reason to learn about trade pacts. This blog is a space for exploring New Generation trade from a different perspective, one that takes a generational lens and is focused on what we are offering children and their children to come.
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*trade pact description from Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians