Study Reveals Big Tech Ploy to Internationally Preempt Privacy, Anti-Monopoly and Algorithmic Transparency Initiatives with “Digital Trade” Deals
Rethink Trade fights for good jobs, a healthy environment, robust and fair markets where small businesses can thrive and safe and affordable medicine, food and goods. And we believe those who will live with the results must decide the policies affecting their lives. That’s why we work to replace the current “trade” rules that were formed by and for the world’s largest corporate powers with damaging results for most people and the planet.
Big Tech is trying to hijack trade negotiations to lock in their massive powers and stop government efforts to end Big Tech abuses of workers, consumers and smaller businesses. The corporations are misbranding their attack against necessary government regulations as new “e-commerce” or “digital trade” policies and agreements. But this “digital trade” offensive in fact is just a stealthy new front in the ongoing power struggle between a relatively few digital mega-platforms versus national governments and all of us. Big Tech’s goal is to tie the hands of Congress and U.S. agencies before they can protect us from Big Tech abuses while trying to roll back the best gig worker and privacy protections, anti-monopoly and anti-discrimination rules worldwide.
President Biden pledged to create a new “worker centered” trade agreement model. This is not only smart policy, but politically necessary. Decades of corporate-rigged trade pacts caused such significant harm to people and the planet that the last such deal, the TPP, couldn’t garner a majority in Congress during the Obama administration — proving the old trade model is no longer politically viable. The Biden administration proposes negotiations for an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and an Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP). If talks start, will they promote or undermine goals people nationwide demand like ending Big Tech abuses against workers, consumers and smaller businesses, cutting medicine prices, fixing broken supply chains, and more.
Decades of hyperglobalization as implemented by corporate-rigged “free trade” policies have concentrated the production of essential goods in too few countries and companies. This model has hollowed out U.S. manufacturing capacity and left the U.S. overly dependent on long, brittle supply chains for essential goods. This exposes us to economic, public health and national security vulnerabilities. We must replace the failed hyperglobalization model with pro-worker, pro-equity, pro-community, pro-environment rules for the economy to promote reliable and resilient supply chains, domestic economic security and infrastructure, climate, public health and other goals.
Corporate-rigged trade agreements have promoted the outsourcing of jobs to countries where wages are low and workers have no rights. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its many Free Trade Agreement (FTA) clones include foreign investor rights that make it safe and easy to relocate jobs. But these pacts have no enforceable labor or environmental conditions on the products that are sent back for sale here duty-free. The U.S. government certified more than one million Americans lost their jobs to NAFTA. In 2020, Congress voted to update NAFTA with better labor standards and enforcement. Much more remains to be done to fix the old trade agreement model. But, we can test if the labor terms can make a difference for workers here and in Mexico.
Unless global production capacity for COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments is greatly expanded, we will face an endless cycle of new variants. Some could be more lethal. Pharmaceutical corporations have used intellectual property monopolies imposed by the World Trade Organization and other “trade” pacts to limit how much and where COVID-19 medicines can be made. Two years into a pandemic and 15 million dead, at a June 2022 summit, the WTO failed to waive its IP barriers undermining global access to lifesaving COVID medicines. In response 300 health, labor and other organizations demanded countries take direct action to save lives. The fight for global access to COVID meds continues!
with Lori Wallach
Welcome to Rethinking Trade with Lori Wallach, where we unpack “trade” policy, law and politics and how it affects your daily life more than you think. Much of what is labeled trade today is not about actual trade stuff, like tariffs or quotas. We’ll reveal how Big Tech, Big Pharma, Wall Street et al. use the trade brand to rig the rules against working people, consumers, small businesses and farmers and consolidate monopoly control, outsource jobs and undermine food safety and our environment. We’ll debunk myths used to sell the corporate-managed trade agenda, which also has done major damage in the developing world. And, we’ll share alternatives we support.
If you thought the air travel fiasco could not get worse, consider the scary news that airlines are offshoring the maintenance work needed to keep planes safe. The airlines’ greedy cost-cutting behind the outdated computer systems and gutted airline staffing has upended peoples’ lives with epic travel meltdowns. But offshoring airplane safety maintenance to boost profits?! At offshore facilities in El Salvador, Singapore, China, and Brazil there are no FAA spot checks and the specialized aircraft certifications for mechanics, background checks, and drug testing required in the U.S. are waived. The Department of Transportation is letting the airlines get away with it. Experts say it’s just a matter of time before there is a horrific incident.
In this episode of Rethinking Trade with Lori Wallach, we are joined by the two people who know the most about this threat. William McGee, the Senior Fellow for Aviation and Travel at the American Economic Liberties Project, is America’s leading aviation consumer safety and rights expert. He’s a former FAA-licensed aircraft dispatcher with decades of experience as Consumer Reports’ lead on aviation. Gary Peterson is the Vice of the Transport Workers Union and a certified Airframe and Powerplant aviation mechanic by trade. He is Executive Director to the International President and former Air Division Director at the union. Gary worked for decades for American Airlines leading the teams who do the heavy maintenance, rebuilds and safety inspections of planes. He also served as crew chief doing maintenance on aircraft in the Air Force. Gary, Bill, and Lori talk about the lunacy of offshoring aircraft safety maintenance and how to fix the problem now.