Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hegemony behind FTA

The process of signing the agreement along with other countries is spreading rapidly. We look like to be too keen in implementing that process. So far, Malaysian Government still in the process of studying the consequences of the FTA with United States . We nowadays are more likely to please the Americans compared to previous times. Malaysia is seen as likely to bow to pressure by the United States to enter into Free trade Agreement (FTA) with the imperialist superpower.

We as Malaysians must rise in arms to protest against FTA that would be most likely to be lopsided in the US favour. That is the nature of FTA which was rushed through by the Americans for the countries in Latin America . I would like to point out that unlike multilateral agreements of World Trade Organization (WTO) where developing countries look out for each other’s interest against developed countries, the bilateral FTA has no time limit and consists of “negative list”.

The WTO agreement was done through a “positive list” meaning that matters of the agreement was spelt out, unlike the FTA which has a negative list which means that the matters not listed in the agreement would also be covered. There is also suspicion when US had put the negotiations on the “fast track” as this was not clear.

FTA was actually a change in strategy after the multilateral WTO agreement failed to coerce developing countries to enter into unfair terms. In the long term, the FTA would be a “re-colonization” of Malaysia by western powers through economic control. Even though it is just a trade agreement, but it also provides for access to services, government procurement and other policies. We fear that our farmers are going to be jobless due to cheap agricultural products flooding our markets, because their farmers receive a far higher subsidy. Meanwhile, even though our electronic products could be marketed there, but we also have to bear in mind that theirs could also come in here.

I agreed with the Chairman of Coalition Against America-Malaysia FTA Dr Xavier Jayakumar saying that the country must strengthen its own institutions first to be at par with those of the US before entering into agreement. When we do not have our own house in order we are not in the position whereby we can bargain to ensure our rights. The projects from the government procurement were the economic driving force of the country and that if the sector was to be opened up as it would under the requirement of FTA then we would end up “sacrificing our own people to Americans companies”.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG) director Edward Low said the FTA would make medicine prices especially for HIV patients to go up due to restrictions on imports of generic drugs from other producing countries. We do not want the legacy of the Singapore state where the government has signed on a FTA and where HIV patients have to fly over to India or Thailand to seek treatment instead of in Singapore it is very expensive.

Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization director, Charles Santiago said the FTA is essentially about “intra firms” instead of “inter firms” trade in between the nations that go into the agreement. If we look at the import and the export trade numbers for Malaysia to the United States and vice versa invariably we see electronic and electrical goods as the key exports. Look at the exports of the US to Malaysia , it is the same electronic and electrical stuff, so what is this trade all about?

Actually what they are doing here is to ensure that investor’s rights become non-negotiable and this could undermine national sovereignty. Dr Mahathir highlighted in his book Reflections on Asia that every one knows about the tablets of stone descended from Mount Liberalism , “the theology of the free market”. We are told that everything will be fine so long we liberalise, deregulate, and open up.

Some are even more specific by saying that all would be fine if we allow international capital complete freedom to do whatever it wishes, constrained only by the hand of magical market forces. More tightly focused is that everything would be fine if only we allow foreign financiers to buy up our financial sector so that we will have no financial institutions of our own anymore.

According to the fact, bilateral trade between the two countries surpassed at about US$ 44 billion last year. The US is Malaysia ’s single largest trading partner, while Malaysia is the 10th largest trading partner for the US .

We prayed however that this (signing on to the FTA) will not be the case.

"US-FTA seems to be the new trend of imperialisme way through economy"

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