Trade Deals Must Jibe with Other Global Rules

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"TEXT 1770.","Canadian Speeches: Volume 15, #01, March/April 2001.","WARREN ALLMAND.","President, Rights and Democracy Institute.","Trade deals must jibe with other global rules.","Rights. Democracy. Free trade and protection. Trade, international. Globalization.","Global and regional trade agreements and institutions must not be allowed to override other national commitments involving human rights, labour standards, the environment, and health. Presentation to FAIT committee, Ottawa, June 13, 2000. Edited for publication.","Globalization can be much more than trade and economics and it can be either good or bad. As you well know, globalization is taking place in communications, in arts, sports and health, and even in crime, unfortunately.

Globalization has been a major program at Rights and Democracy for several years. It's one of our priority programs. Our concern is with global and regional trade agreements ... and institutions that facilitate trade and investment without any consideration of human rights and labour standards, without any consideration of the environment and health.

These agreements provide for a world where trade takes precedence over everything else. This is the case when we look at the WTO, at APEC, at NAFTA and the proposed FTAA so far, and at the MAI. These agreements, as written, set up pressures to harmonize with the lowest common denominator in the trading group. In other words, there's a race to the bottom, to lower standards in environmental areas, in labour, in human rights and so on, in order to attract investment and trade, etc ...

Within the United States, within Europe -- we have laws that facilitate trade and trade takes place. We have very active trading within Canada and with the United States, but it's subject to the Constitution and it's subject to the Charter of Rights. Trade laws are read in conjunction with all the other laws that Parliament has passed.

In none of those countries I've referred to does trade take precedence over the Charter of Rights or the Constitution or environment laws and so on. It's read in conjunction with them and is subject to our charter and to our Constitution. But it seems that with respect to international trade, when we raise these arguments with respect to the WTO and other global trading institutions, they say "Trade has nothing to do with human rights. Trade has nothing to do with labour." I don't know where that logic comes from because it's not acceptable anywhere else or within our own country. …