Noam Chomsky: Every Word In The Phrase "Free Trade Agreement" Is False


MIT linguist Noam Chomsky speaks at a conference for whistleblowers, alternative media, and activists in Munich. He answers a question on free trade at minute 8:00.

NOAM CHOMSKY, MIT: It is not a free trade agreement. It has nothing to do with "free trade." Virtually nothing.

Tariffs are already very low, and changing the tariff agreements means essentially nothing. It is anti-free trade.

First off all, it is in secret. Remember it is virtually in secret, the population is not supposed to know about it. It is not totally in secret, the corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing it; it is not a secret to them.

So it is not a secret to the corporate world, it is not a secret to the state authority. It is just a secret to the population.

Pieces have been leaked through Wikileaks.

One piece leaked was the "Intellectual Property Rights" section, which is one of the core elements of the agreement. Now what are intellectual property rights? It is a complicated word that means highly protectionist measures to ensure the exorbitant profits of American and international pharmaceutical and media corporations. That is anti-free trade. It is extreme protectionism in the interests of very wealthy and powerful parts of the corporate system.

But other parts are --we don't have the details remember because it is secret-- a variety of "investor rights" provisions, to ensure the rights of investors against the population.

Take NAFTA, which we do know because it is there we can see, was also negotiated in secret but now it is public.

A large part of it is guarantees of the rights of U.S. investors to what is called "national treatment" in Mexico, so if General Motors does business in Mexico, it has to be treated like a Mexican business. If a Mexican human being comes to the New York, he doesn't have the rights of an American citizen, quite the contrary can end up in prison for the rest of his life, but American businesses have to have the rights of Mexicans.

U.S. agro-business, highly subsidized agro-business, totally against free trade. Has to have the right to flood the Mexican market with produce that the Mexicans can't compete with of course. Which sets up the immigration crisis.

That is NAFTA, but one of the [TPP] provisions allows a corporation --not you or me-- to sue a state if the state is taking measures which might potentially interfere with profits.

So if Mexico decides to set up an environmentally protected region where some American corporation wants to invest, they can sue Mexico for taking their "future profits" on the area Mexico is trying to protect.

These are the kinds of provisions that you see in the trade agreements.

They're not free trade agreements, they're not about free trade. In fact, to a large extent they are not about trade at all, and they certainly are not agreements, people are mostly opposed to them, that's why they are in secret, so every word in "free trade organization" is just false.

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