The Tail End of Free Trade by Jacob Hill

Dandelion Salad

by Jacob Hill
Dissident Voice
August 10th, 2007

A Preliminary Evaluation of the Impact of NAFTA on the Manufacturing Sector

In this, the fourteenth year of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it is of the utmost importance—in terms of its continued application in the future—to look back and examine the economic impact of free trade on the U.S. and Mexico over the last decade and a half. A major component of the exercise will be NAFTA’s impact on the proliferation of the maquiladora sector, which repeatedly has resulted in a precipitous drop in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and Mexico as well as a reliable precedence for the weakening of labor standards in much of the third world.

Human Rights Abuses in Mexican Manufacturing

One of the most drastic and disturbing results of NAFTA has been a boom in the Mexican maquiladora sector. In the U.S. and the developed world, these manufacturing units would deservedly be known as sweatshops. The maquiladoras operate within Latin America because of the abundance of cheap labor and the poor conditions being tolerated. Due to the removal of protective tariffs by free trade pacts, raw components are imported to the maquiladoras without being taxed. Additionally, the machinery involved in the maquiladora process is also allowed to enter Mexico tariff-free under NAFTA’s terms. Then, Mexican laborers work to turn the raw goods into finished products, adding value to the goods. The end products are then exported to developed nations, with minimal tax levied that is based only on the value added during production.

Although one could argue that within the capitalist model, Mexico’s comparative advantage would be its inexpensive labor, the human rights abuses often associated with the maquiladora process thus bring with them a heavy economic disadvantage. The sweatshop problem has been well known since the inception of NAFTA. In 1995, just a year after the implementation of the free trade agreement, The New York Times reported on the exploitation of Mexican young girls by the maquiladoras. U.S. companies, often working through third parties, pay children as young as 14 years of age wages under 40 cents per hour. Maquiladoras located within walled and barbed wired free trade zones are not only exempt from import taxes, but are also exempt from state and local imposts for up to 10 years. Once a corporation structure is set up as a free trade zone and secures a manufacturing contract with a large multinational company, the owner of the facility maximizes profits by informally sanctioning a number of abuses, including offering low wages, tolerating dismal safety standards, refusing to provide health benefits and insisting upon unpaid overtime.


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2 thoughts on “The Tail End of Free Trade by Jacob Hill

  1. Namiste and peace,

    The American worker has been royally screwed over by big and small corperations especilly after NAFTA and then the world globalization of the supposed global market.

    Whay back when NAFTA was agreeed to I knew that was specifically to be screwing over the American worker and driving jobs down south for cheaper labor and then these big corperations could be realizing huge profits. What of the workers that have been laid off time and again and their families and the communities that these factories left hanging high and dry… They end up with nothing is what they get… Have you ever tried finding a good job after you are forty and get a good high paying job like the one you used to have? It isn’t going to happen and yes work places all of them do practice age discrimination. Although once a worker is fired or unemployed or laid off or hat ever you want to call it the jobs that used to be there which an Americna could then fall back into another good job is no longer there and the bills that need to be paid and the house and the car and the food to support your families are no longer there where is the money and the jobs? Ovr in India or China or indonesia or in some other theird world country yes as often as ot look no further than just south of the border for freee trade agreement cheap laborers that will work for next to nothing which is what the rich slave money grubbers want in the first place. Slaves not human beings to work for them but slaves..

    Where do these corperations think that the American consumer can get the money to buy their over priced goods made from another countru for less than penny’s on the dollar and then resold here for thousands the times thye cost to produce them like as if an American had made the items? The Americna worker and family has no such incomes any more since the good higher paying positions are all leaving the contry. It is even hard to foind a decient minumum wage job due to the overly lax way the government has been allowwing the illegal alliens to be running into our country like a flood that can not be stopped which should have been stopped years and years ago.

    How long has the army and the police had acess to night vision goggles and heat signature equipment that they all have or most all have? I don’t see any real excusses for why so many illegal alliens enter this country and then take jobs away from legal immagrants and Americans..Do you other than the government wishes to end the middle class of americans. They keep us all poor and ignorant then it is easier to conmtrol us all that’s the reason. Plus through manipulations of bringing in groups to hate other groups that creates strife amongst everyone and by allowing this then no one is able to organize or to fix the problems that the rich of this country or the leaders or whom ever you would like to blame it on is their goal. They don’t want everyone of one mind of one resolve of one purpose if that were to happen martial law would be happening tomorrow and then like some what as is now the case all civil liberties would be given up and or lost. They the big establishment, the Obessada Illagetamo Latin for (Rich Fat Basstards) would not want us to all join together and to gain the same statuses as they have given themselves…

    With the influx of so many unchecked illegal aliens this gives the population a encentive to pay less as there are more workers here to do the jobs that maybe some one else didn’t want to do which now they can pay next to nothing for a cheap laborer to do. IF there is laborers who are willing to work for next to nothing who would you hire? If there were workers who were a steady stream of free workers that you don’t have to pay income tax on or pay any binifits to who would you rather hire? If there were workers a huge amount which you could get to keep the work plce running and didn’t have to hire Americans and pay out more who would you hire? If you could keep workers on a Temporary basuis for ever or with out enough hours to be called full time workers wouldn’t you? what if all those extra workers were to dry up tomorrow? Maybe you and your children could have and find work at a decient wage. Maybe? Who knows have we tried that yet? Hey at least if it was an Americna worker maybe they would have a Union and be making a decient wage and have some benefits. The influx of illegal workers is also a sourse of pulling the power out of a union especially if a lot of the membership is illegal aliens. Lets use this as an example if you were working at a meat packing plant and half of the workers were illegal aliens and the plant was only willing to pay just a couple of dollars over the minum wage the union would like to orgainze and go on strike for better benefits and better wages but the illegal aliens who fear for their jobs and their being deproted fight against any strikes except when it is regular Americans who are legal immagrants wishing to better their own lives then they want to picket when we want them to all go back to where they came from so we caqn get better jobs and higher wages. They can come back just come back legally and go through the whole documentation and the fees and the medical checks and the Law checks first like the normal immagrants are forced to have to go through. Oh and they should have a sponcer too as all immagrants need a sponcer now inless this law is changed.

    Obviously it is in the big companies and the companies all companies at large an insentive to look the other way at illegal immagration don’t you think? There is no real down side for them only the american worker and the americna middle class. Whith such a influx of cheap labor if a worker goes on strike or threatons to quite what does the company or employer care they can find some body else to do the job for less and with little or no benefits!!! The leverage is no longer there in the American workers side to win any of the labor wage or benefit’s do they. If they have a leverage what is it exactly?

    It should be incombent upon the Mexican government and it’s own peoples to slove their own workers rights and econoomic problems just as we need to be working together as Americans to try and solve ours. Our Government and the people we elect it appears could care less…

    What does the face of slavery look like in modern times? Go look in your bath room mirror if you have one!!!

    Namiste and peace,


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