Trade Agreements For The 21st Century

The world has changed significantly since the emergence of ‘free’ trade in the 1980s. In 2017 tariffs are the least of our worries.

We now know that the earth’s resources are finite and are being used up much faster than they can be replenished.

We know that carbon dioxide emissions are set to cause catastrophic climate change if we do not act quickly to reduce them.

We know that pollution is causing damage to the earth’s ecosystem and that methods of production and overproduction of non-recyclable consumables is largely to blame for this.

We know that economic inequality is rife both within countries and between countries, and that much of the political and social unrest in the world is caused by inequality.

But we also know that there are enough resources for all, today and for future generations, if they are distributed more equitably and sustainably.

We know that the solution is for sovereign nations, companies, and individuals to work cooperatively, not in competition with each other. Therefore multilateral trade agreements must reflect a global perspective. The goal of trade agreements must change.

Trade agreements for the 21st century should not be about each participant trying to secure competitive advantages for one or two dominant companies or industries domiciled in their country.

“Trade is double-edged – so make it fair” (Kate Raworth)

THE GOAL OF TRADE AGREEMENTS FOR THE 21st CENTURY MUST BE TO FOSTER COOPERATION AMONGST TRADING NATIONS FOR THE GOOD OF ALL PEOPLE AND THE PLANET

Trade agreements for the 21st Century should encourage ethical, sustainable trade in goods and services that safeguards the health and wellbeing of people everywhere and of the planet, and protects from exploitation and profiteering. Specifically, trade agreements should:

  • promote the free flow of information and knowledge
  • ensure that the earth’s resources are used in an equitable and sustainable manner
  • aim to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees above pre industrial levels (as per Paris Agreement)
  • ensure that producers and workers receive a liveable income
  • ensure that the health and safety of both producers/workers and consumers is paramount
  • ensure that the environment is protected during production and in disposal of goods
  • promote quality of products over quantity – discourage over supply and built in obsolescence
  • ensure that profit at each stage of the supply chain is equitable
  • establish consistent levels of taxation for transnational companies
  • recognize the sovereignty of each nation in matters such as what services are provided as public services and by whom, the movement of people and capital, and dispute resolution (as long as human rights are not breached)
  • respect any measures a nation may wish to take to protect their citizens’ interests, protect rights of indigenous cultures, or deal with social disadvantage or environmental degradation.
  • ensure that agreements entered into are transparent to all parties, including workers/ producers and consumers

NEW ZEALAND SHOULD NOT ENTER INTO ANY AGREEMENTS THAT COMPROMISE ANY OF THE ABOVE

We recommend that strong consideration be given to the suggestion that ethical business guidelines (guidelines that protect workers, consumers, and the environment) be made into law in New Zealand so that they can be enforced for local producers and businesses importing goods into New Zealand.


Resources

‘Slow Fashion Movement Wants Ethics Made Into Law’ Morgan Tait, Newsroom May 2017

‘Could We Have A People-Friendly Globalization?’ Bill Rosenberg CTU Monthly Bulletin No 186 Feb 2017-05-21

‘The Doughnut Economy’ Kate Raworth, Random House, 2017

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