CAFTA’s Decade of Empty Promises Failed Guatemala and Haunts the TPP

In the UK and the European Union, social justice campaigners are fighting the secret trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the US – this deal is known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It is a comprehensive free trade and investment treaty and, as officials from both sides acknowledge, the main goal of TTIP is to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic.

On the other side of the world, the US is in talks, again secret, on the Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) which would expend the failed Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) model of trade across the Pacific. When failed, we mean ‘failed’ for the people and the environment.

As Ben Beachy notes in the CIP America Program website, the US administration is recycling the same lofty ideals used to promote CAFTA deal ten years ago. I tend to prefer the word ‘lies’.

For Guatemala, the article speaks of the burden on Guatemala tax payers because of monopoly protection for drug companies; the failing of the agreement to protect workers; the iniquitous investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS); and drug-related violence and migration.

Kaletra is a drug used to fight HIV/AIDS. With CAFTA, Kaletra enjoyed monopoly protections in Guatemala, making generic versions unavailable. Without a generic alternative, Guatemala’s public health system pays about $130 per bottle of Kaletra. In contrast, the generic version of Kaletra costs less than $20 per bottle, according to the Pan American Health Organization reference price. 

The labour provisions of CAFTA failed to prevent the murder of 68 Guatemalan unionists over the course of seven years without a single arrest. Today Guatemala’s union workers still endure frequent attacks with near-total impunity.

In 2010 a U.S. energy company with an indirect, minority stake in Guatemala’s electric utility used ISDS to challenge Guatemala’s decision to lower electricity rates for consumers.  The next day, the company sold off its minority share.  A three-person ISDS tribunal generously decided to treat the firm as a protected “investor” in Guatemala and ordered the government to pay the corporation more than $32 million.

You can read the full article here and more about TTIP here, on the War on Want website.

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Categories: Environment, Justice

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