Free trade is not always fair

Last September the World Trade Organization ran into a problem when leaders and representatives of underdeveloped countries walked out of meetings that would set the momentum of free trade and push an extension of NAFTA by adding seven Central American countries to the agreement in a deal called the Central America Free Trade Agreement.

Criticisms of free trade have been increasing since the 1999 WTO demonstration in Seattle. Anti-free trade demonstrations that have occurred after 1999 have seen in an increase in participants and venues that include the World Bank and IMF, Free Trade of Americas Agreement and CAFTA. Anti-globalization activists call for an end to free trade and hope to see it replaced with fair trade.

In a presidential debate on Thanksgiving, Howard Dean said that the WTO needed an “overhaul,” and Dennis Kunich called for an end to the WTO.

A dramatization of the unequal distribution of wealth, called The Meal of Fortune, recently took place on campus.

Dr. Joan Ferrante, professor in the sociology department, presented to students examples of exploited workers in underdeveloped nations that make goods that are mostly sold and used in the United States, such as tantalum, a metal that is necessary for cell phones to operate, diamonds and other jewels, coffee bean farmers and textile factories where workers earn between to and 36 cents per hour.

According to Ferrante, 55 percent of the world’s population earn less than two dollars a day.

Free trade is the cause and the World Bank and IMF are notorious for escalating workers exploration.

The World Bank gives loans to underdeveloped countries with hopes that the country will attract industry to pay back their loan and become self-reliant. Competition created by free trade forces the goods produced to remain at low price in the market and does not generate the profits necessary to pay back the loan and the underdeveloped country folds and the economy collapses.