Citizen Trade Commission hearing details problems caused by NAFTA, WTO
May 15, 2006
At the fourth public hearing of Maine's Citizen Trade Commission last week in Lewiston, speaker after speaker was eloquent in detailing how the current trade agreements, such as NAFTA, CAFTA, GATS, have devastated their businesses and farms, or damaged other segments of the economy. Most foresaw the same results with trade policies now in the pipeline for Congressional approval, such as agreements with Oman or Peru.

Thrown into the mix was a concern over drinking water, its purity, its regulation, its extraction, and its ownership. Predictions, already coming true in some places around the world, are that water will take the place of oil as a commodity that countries will go to war over.

Overlaying all their concerns was the concern over ethics -- why unfair imports, or the draining of our aquifers, or dangerous working conditions, or child labor, were tolerated by our government and/or our citizens.

The expressed concern over the lack of transparency and loss of democracy that most of these trade agreement embody was reminiscent of the objections I raised to NAFTA as a Congressional candidate in 1993, before the vote on that treaty in Congress.

Getting out of NAFTA, CAFTA, and the World Trade Organization, and starting over in developing fair trade policies, are long-standing themes in my campaign.

In my remarks before the Commission, I pointed out that, in my opinion, the demise of our manufacturing base as a result of these trade agreements is a national security issue. What happens when China or other countries who now supply us with something like steel decide they need that commodity for their own home markets?

I also suggested that the global dynamic will be changing soon, not because of public pressure, but because of the competition for the remaining oil in the world, and the sudden expense involved with transportation of goods over long distances. I predicted a contraction geographically of viable markets. The good news is that, when that time comes, Maine is well-poised geographically to take advantage of its proximity to the heavily-populated Eastern Seaboard.