Saturday, December 09, 2006

Another Disastrous Trade Pact Passes In The House

The House tonight caved to K Street and passed the Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. I received a copy of the New Democrats’ press release trumpeting the passage. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) claims that the deal “will help American workers and our economy by opening up a huge market for American industrial and agricultural goods and services.” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY)said he voted for the deal because “Vietnam will further open its market to our banking, insurance, telecom and delivery industries, creating more opportunities for both our nations.”

Oh yes, I’m sure the push for the bill had nothing to do with how,
according to Businessweek, Corporate America is desperate to open up Vietnam’s market to exploit its dirt poor workers who have no basic rights:

A big reason for the change is rock-bottom wages. As labor shortages in some regions of China drive up costs, factory hands in parts of the mainland can earn more than five times the $55 per month that Vietnamese workers in foreign-owned factories are paid. That differential is a big reason why Sparton Corp. (SPA ) of Jackson, Mich., chose Vietnam over China last year when it made its first investment outside North America. It sank $8 million into a 50,000-square-foot plant to produce chemical diagnostic equipment. “I think productivity and quality will far exceed the U.S.,” says Jason Craft, managing director of Sparton subsidiary Spartronics Vietnam Co.

Yes, I’m sure Congress’s support has nothing to do with companies wanting greater trade preferences so they can move to eliminate American jobs and open up factories to exploit cheap labor oppressed by a dictatorial government:

In the technology space, global corporations like chipmaker Intel have given Vietnam their vote of confidence. In October this year, Intel and a U.S. investment group announced plans to pump US$36.5 million in FPT Corporation, Vietnam’s largest IT company…The number of companies with offices in Vietnam jumped from 21 to 26 this year.

Yes, we’re all just expected to believe that this deal is about “helping American workers” and not about helping the Big Money interests who buy lawmakers like Tauscher and Crowley and get them to provide the key votes for preferential trade pacts with countries whose workers are most ripe for exploitation.

I couldn't have said it any better than David Sirota. Sigh. Just when I thought things might be turning around, it's still business as usual.

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