Fair Trade, not Free Trade.

Posted: March 13, 2012 in Communications and Technology
Tags: , , , ,

“Global Economy and International Telecommunications Networks” by Harmeet Sawhney was our reading for week eight in Communications and Technology, and also the subject of my group’s second presentation. One major theme in Sawhney’s reading is how global communications have enabled our global economy, and that whether we realize it or not, this affects us on a daily basis. Sawney uses the example of the clothing he was wearing at the time of his writing, including “a shirt from Sri Lanka, pants from the United States, sandals from Mexico, a watch from Korea, and glasses from France.” (p. 73). Part of what has made it possible for “first” world countries to acquire such a diverse array of goods is society-damaging free trade agreements (FTAs) and corporate neocolonialism – both of which would be much harder to accomplish without global communications.

With the introduction of FTAs, such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), countries pretty much lose their sovereignty to corporations. Governments sell the idea that it will bring business to our country and increase jobs, and gloss over the fact that with any FTA comes the indisputable power of the World Trade Organization (WTO). If a corporation decides that a health or environmental regulation in place in a city, province, or territory gets in the way of free trade, then the WTO can force Canada to overturn the safety regulations. And big surprise- the WTO virtually never sides with the country that disputes the corporation. In fact, if the country decides to block the corporation regardless – the WTO fines them! It is a sad state of affairs that would not be possible without global communications. I suppose we could call it one of the greatest revenge effects of all time. When a country loses the ability to make decisions about it’s own environment and the safety of its citizens to corporations, one has to wonder what the future will hold.

(Burn NAFTA, n.d.)

Critique of “Global Economy and International Telecommunications Networks” by Sawhney, H.:

The only part of this reading that I found interesting was the connection between the global economy, free trade agreements, and global communications. An entire history lesson about the division of labour was incredibly dry and dull, and I did not find it related well to a communications and technology course. Understandably, this is an important concept to know about, however, I think there are most likely better readings out there to teach us about the massive amount of control that global communications have dropped into the wrong hands.

References

Sawhney, H. (2007). Chapter 3: Global Economy and International Telecommunications Networks. In Fernyhough, L. (Ed.), Comm 105: Communication and Technology. Course Package: Winter 2012, (pp. 73-88). Victoria, BC: Camosun College Bookstore. (Reprinted from Global Communication, 35-50).

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