Los Angeles, California - As trade ministers from fourteen countries meet in Los Angeles today for behind-closed-door negotiations on the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) trade agreement, labor and other civil society organizations rallied outside urging that proposals for the pact be released for public scrutiny and that the deal not be rigged in favor of Big Tech monopolies and other corporate interests. “Our message today is very simple: the public deserves the right to know what IPEF negotiators are proposing in our names,” said Will Jamil Wiltschko, director of the California Trade Justice Coalition, which helped organize the demonstration.
The Chinese government has announced that it is forgiving 23 interest-free loans for 17 African nations, while pledging to deepen its collaboration with the continent. This is in addition to China’s cancellation of more than $3.4 billion in debt and restructuring of around $15 billion of debt in Africa between 2000 and 2019. While Beijing has a repeated history of forgiving loans like this, Western governments have made baseless, politically motivated accusations that China uses “debt-trap diplomacy” in the Global South. The United States has turned Africa into a battleground in its new cold war on China and Russia. And Washington has weaponized dubious claims of Chinese “debt traps” to try to demonize Beijing for its substantial infrastructure projects on the continent. For its part, China has pushed back against the US new cold war.
Growing up in San Pedro Bay near Los Angeles, California, Sal DiCostanzo, an executive board member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13 and a dock worker for over 20 years, has seen jobs in numerous industries at the ports disappear, many of which were exported. “The last remaining jobs that are here that are good paying union jobs with benefits are longshore and other related supply chain jobs,” said DiCostanzo. “Automating these jobs would be taking away the only jobs left for this community.” DiCostanzo also pushed back on proponents of automation using clean technology as an incentive to do so, saying manual equipment that is electric can be introduced as well, and that environmental justice can’t be achieved at the expense of economic justice.
Ahead of next week's key meeting between the United States and 13 Asian and Australiasian nations, more than 100 civil society groups told the Biden administration on Friday that transparent negotiations and increased public input are necessary to prevent an embryonic trade deal from being perceived as the latest iteration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "We share your goal of creating a new model for U.S. trade policy that prioritizes the interests of working people, communities of color, the environment, consumers, and family farmers instead of just big corporations," the coalition wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. "The launch of your administration's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) may be a test case for what this model looks like and what it can achieve."
’US President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’ after his 2012 re-election sought to check China’s sustained economic growth and technological progress. Its economic centerpiece was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But the US International Trade Commission (ITC) doubted the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) and other exaggerated claims of significant TPP economic benefits in mid-2016, well before US President Donald Trump’s election. The ITC report found projected TPP growth gains to be paltry over the long-term. Its finding was in line with the earlier 2014 findings of the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, many US manufacturing jobs have been lost to corporations automating and relocating abroad.
The Chinese government had launched a large scale program to solve the problem once and for all. It subsidized companies to move production facilities to Xinjiang. For geographic reasons these are now mostly in the northern part of Xinjiang. The government also organized large camps for vocational and language training. After people went through those they were offered jobs in the new factories where they work in exchange for normal wages. The U.S. anti-China propaganda campaign claims that these Uighur people were forced to take up their new jobs and calls that 'forced labor'. It is not. Working in some industry far from home is normal in China. It is the reason why each year during the Spring Festival season 300 million people in China travel to reunite with their families. Real forced labor is what one sees in the U.S. prison industry where prisoner have no choice but to work for a few pennies which the prison will in the end regain due to absurd prices for small necessities prisoners have to pay for.
In recent months, European countries and the European Union have been put under pressure from the United States to substantially break ties with the People’s Republic of China as well as to orient Europe’s military towards confrontation with China. The pressure campaign – which began with US President Donald Trump and continues with his successor Joe Biden – goes against the obvious interests of most European countries. China, not the United States, is Germany’s largest trading partner and has been so for the past five years; Germany, the economic dynamo of Europe, would suffer if it attempts to cut commercial ties with China. China is the European Union’s second biggest trading partner (behind the United States) and the European Union is one of China’s biggest trading partners.
The Heads of State and Government and the heads of delegations of the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples’ Trade Treaty, meeting in person on June 24, 2021, within the framework of the commemoration of the bicentennial of the Battle of Carabobo in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, by signing this declaration, renew our commitment to strengthening the integration and unity of our peoples as the founding ideology of Commanders Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro Ruz; we vindicate the ideology of Bolívar, Martí, San Martín, Sucre, O’Higgins, Pétion, Morazán, Sandino, Túpac Katari, Bartolina Sisa and other heroes of Latin American and Caribbean independence, symbols of historical and cultural union of the struggle of our Indigenous peoples...
Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to Guatemala this week to discuss solutions to the poverty, violence, and corruption that are among the driving forces of migration. Contributing to these drivers are neoliberal arrangements, such as the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which have been imposed on Guatemalans. This framework favors the development of large-scale mining and energy projects that are devastating to the well-being of rural communities and Indigenous peoples, while allowing private corporations to sue governments over hard-fought social and environmental protections. Case in point: A Nevada-based mining company is suing the Guatemalan government for over $400 million, claiming violations of investor protections in the CAFTA.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)—the successor to NAFTA—commenced on July 1, 2020. As the first anniversary of the agreement approaches, too little is known, or knowable, as to what has been accomplished in terms of one of the agreement’s main objectives—the legitimation of Mexico’s labor relations. Over the past decade, Mexico has rapidly ascended the list of U.S. trade partners—achieving top status in 2019, edging out the world’s industrial colossus, China. As its export capacity in manufacturing rose—particularly in auto and auto parts production—so did the objections of U.S. unions and their allies to what can be understood as “social dumping.” That is, Mexico, unlike China, has kept its average manufacturing wage roughly constant—at about one-tenth of U.S. wages, on average—as exports soared in the NAFTA era (1994–2020).
Palestinian rights activists are aiming to block ships operated by an Israeli shipping line from unloading cargo in key US port cities as part of a campaign to pressure Israel over its numerous violations of international law. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (Aroc), which is leading the effort, told Middle East Eye on Wednesday that its "Block the Boat" campaign had successfully prevented a ship operated by Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd from docking in Oakland, California. Zim, considered the 10th largest shipping company in the world, told MEE in an email that delays at the port prevented it from unloading cargo there, but did not mention the cause. "Due to operational constraints and long delays in the port of Oakland, and in order to meet schedule departures in the Far East, we will be calling on other US West Coast Ports until further notice," the company said. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (Aroc), which is leading the effort, told Middle East Eye on Wednesday that its "Block the Boat" campaign had successfully prevented a ship operated by Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd from docking in Oakland, California.
Since 2018, hundreds of new sanctions targeting the civilian economy have been imposed on the people of North Korea. In 2018 alone, new and existing sanctions caused almost 4,000 preventable civilian deaths. Around 11 million North Koreans are deprived of sufficient access to basic foodstuffs, clean drinking water or essential medical services. Subjected to ever-increasing sanctions, North Korea is projected to suffer a food deficit of 1.3. million tons this year, worsening the already dire condition endured by a broad swath of the population. More than 40 percent of North Korea’s 25 million people are considered chronically food insecure, and one out of every five children under the age of 5 is impacted by stunted growth.
A new poll finds that 59% percent of US voters support waiving all patent protections to produce generic versions of life-saving medicines for critical diseases, from Covid-19 and HIV/AIDS, to heart disease and diabetes. Only 28% disagreed. The survey carried out by Data for Progress and the Progressive International, shows a super majority of 71% registered Democrats support the removal of all patent barriers to allow for the cheaper production of life-saving medicines. Even registered Republicans support the action with 47% in favor compared to 39% opposed.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has presented "some points" of a landmark cooperation deal that was recently concluded between Beijing and Tehran. In a message posted on his Instagram account on Thursday, Zarif underscored that the Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership focuses on a "practical promotion" of bilateral ties and provides "a roadmap and long-term horizon" toward such relations. According to him, the accord paves the way for full-blown collaboration between the two sides in the fields of politics, economy, trade, culture, defence, and security. The Iranian foreign minister added that the agreement envisages the principles of "mutual respect and the pursuit of common interests in a win-win manner regarding bilateral, regional, and international relations".
Last Friday, three days before a crucial meeting of the World Trade Organization, progressives in the trade, faith, labor, consumer, and human rights communities sent an urgent request to the Biden administration. These nonprofits and unions are urging the administration to act quickly to assert its leadership on a pressing trade issue—whether trade rules will be allowed to hamper global efforts to combat the pandemic. In a letter and a press event, a coalition of 400 organizations asked President Joe Biden to make good on his promise to “absolutely positively” ensure access to vaccines in the developing world. They asked him to support a temporary waiver on requirements that give drug companies lengthy monopoly protections, as well as the right to decide where the vaccines will be made and who will receive them.