Monday, July 28, 2014         


 Print   Email   Comment | View 18 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Free-trade approach has its doubters

By Susan Essoyan


The largest gathering of world leaders in the state's history gives a global megaphone to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation that critics of the organization hope to share.

Although such APEC Leaders Meetings produce no legally binding agreements, they have galvanized thousands of protesters at recent gatherings in Japan, South Korea and Australia, raising a range of grievances from the Iraq War to global warming. At last November's APEC meeting, farmers turned out in force in Yokohama, Japan, to resist efforts to open their markets to foreign competition.

"I've been looking at APEC since the 1990s and I think that it is thoroughly clear that while APEC has really been a boon for particular businesses, for many of the people in the APEC countries it's actually been quite devastating," said Nandita Sharma, associate professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Critics of APEC in Hawaii say the forum has helped multinational corporations run roughshod over local needs in the region. Its focus on free trade and lifting barriers to commerce, they argue, hurts local businesses and small farmers. Reducing regulations makes it easier for multinationals to operate and extract their profits, at the expense of the environment and workers' rights, they say.

Tung Bui, director of the UH APEC Studies Center, argues that such concerns are more appropriately directed at entities such as the World Trade Organization, which actually handles trade rules and agreements.

"APEC is among the international gatherings that has the most cordial meetings because there is no binding agreement," said Bui, who holds the Matson Navigation Co. chair of global business at the UH Shidler College of Business. "It's just a platform where people get together and share their views. Everybody tries to get a consensus, and all we expect to see in the Honolulu declaration is going to be very general."

Given Hawaii's remote location and its tradition of relaxed hospitality, the street scene is expected to be relatively quiet at the Honolulu APEC conference. So far, just one group -- World Can't Wait Hawaii -- has applied for city permits to stage demonstrations during the Tuesday-through-Sunday summit on Oahu.

Many people in the islands are not familiar with APEC and do not feel a direct connection to it, although that is changing as they learn of road closures and restricted ocean access.

"A month ago, almost no one had heard of APEC," said Carolyn Hadfield, an activist with World Can't Wait Hawaii. "They still don't know anything about what APEC really is."

Along with taking it to the streets, Hawaii residents are organizing alternative forums to raise awareness of APEC and to sketch out a different way forward. "Moana Nui 2011: The Pacific Peoples, their Lands and Economies," set for Wednesday through Friday, will focus on indigenous stewardship of land and resources.

"When you have these big international gatherings, you don't necessarily want to spend your time complaining, though there's a lot to complain about," said Arnie Saiki, coordinator of the conference. "One of the objectives for Moana Nui was to offer a place where Pacific island peoples could actually have a very informed discussion over what could be an alternative Pacific island economy."

Moana Nui's keynote speaker is Walden Bello, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, co-author of "The American Lake" and a leading critic of corporate globalization. Conference sessions will cover competition over regional resources and how small island nations can maintain or regain control of their economic and cultural viability.

ARTISTS ARE getting involved as well in response to APEC. Alterna*APEC, an informal body of artists and community members, is holding a series of events designed to imagine "what a local economy could be beyond what global businesses propose" and consider the role of art, said Jaimey Hamilton, a UH assistant professor of contemporary art history who heads that project.

At a recent alterna*APEC arts demonstration, an eclectic group gathered at thirtyninehotel in Chinatown, silk-screening T-shirts, painting slogans on recycled cardboard, and even crocheting with brightly colored yarn.

"Especially for an island community, it's important to understand that our resources are finite," said Lauren Ballesteros, a server and community actor who attended the event and hopes to participate in street theater during APEC. "We do have the ability to sustain ourselves."

The weight of the APEC conference lies largely in who attends and the opportunity for dialogue. President Barack Obama will meet with leaders of 20 other nations, including President Hu Jintao of China and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. Also participating are the leaders of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.

In conjunction with the Leaders Meeting next weekend, business executives from around the region will also gather in Waikiki at the APEC CEO Summit, described as "essentially the board meeting of the Asia-Pacific" by Monica Whaley, president of APEC 2011 US Host Committee. Among them are officials from Boeing, Wal-Mart Asia and Sumitomo Chemical Co.

"The summit is unlike any other event in the world, allowing senior business executives to engage with world leaders and have an immediate impact on economic policy decisions," Whaley said in a statement. "These discussions move markets."

Founded in 1989, APEC champions free trade and investment, economic integration and technical cooperation in the region. A November 2010 assessment of progress toward its goals by APEC's Policy Support Unit noted that trade barriers have fallen across the region, economic growth has outpaced the rest of the world and standards of living have risen.

Bui said he considers APEC's focus on liberalization of trade and investment as "outdated" because so much has been done on that front already. Instead, he said, leaders should take heed of the backdrop for this year's meeting -- the Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate greed.

"In the context of APEC, I would argue that the major problem we are facing this year is the increase of this disparity in income between the rich and the poor," Bui said. "This is not only happening in the developing countries like China and Vietnam and the Philippines, but also in the United States."

He added that he expects that, in their declaration on economic growth, leaders will recognize "that growth has got to be inclusive for everyone -- there should be a fair share for the rich and the poor as well."

Vanessa Chong, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said it is working with the city to ensure that lawful protesters have room to exercise their rights to free speech. The organization has set up a "Know Your Rights" hot line at 522-5906 and an APEC First Amendment Toolkit on its website.

"The 'know your rights' line will be geared up and monitored frequently so we can respond to problems as they arise," Chong said. "If the city and other officials remain as responsive as they have been, Hawaii has a very good chance of having a good APEC experience. It would be great for Hawaii to show the world that the First Amendment is alive and well in the Aloha State."


Police headquarters being fenced in for APEC

What you need to know about APEC traffic, parking and detours

Websites can help drivers navigate APEC-time traffic

HPD advises of operational changes at headquarters during APEC

Obama fundraiser planned at Disney's Aulani Resort

Homeless people removed from convention center area

APEC security rules tighten hold on Waikiki

APEC banner coming down at UH

APEC protest held at UH Manoa

APEC host panel declares stage set for summit

APEC protest group upset over city-designated site

Feds reveal APEC security restrictions for Waikiki, Ko Olina

Students named winners of APEC committee's essay contest

APEC climate symposium attracts scientists, activists

City says it is open to safe, legal protests during event

Sweeping security frustrates residents

Airport international arrivals area gets APEC cleaning

Churches asked to help with APEC service projects

Security zones will make sea off-limits

Groups worried officials will limit ability to protest during summit

Private aircraft will have wings clipped by APEC

APEC security cameras set for final City Council vote

HFD adds new equipment to arsenal ahead of APEC

ACLU challenges protest citations

City to install 34 security cameras for APEC meeting

Five Hawaii companies selected for special promotion at APEC

APEC Impact

Hawaii high schoolers to get chance to attend APEC meetings

Sweep, shine and scour

Mainland politicians told of APEC's arena

City has no plans to move homeless from Waikiki for APEC, official says

States' lawmakers gather for meeting

Hawaii considers moving homeless before APEC

APEC will conclude at Ihilani resort in Ko Olina

Roundup of homeless feared during APEC

Hale Koa and Ihilani resorts chosen for key APEC meetings

APEC security causes worry among school soccer teams

APEC higher education conference to be held next month

Chamber urges businesses to profit from APEC

Lieutenant governor talks trade in China

Roundup of homeless feared during APEC

APEC higher education conference to be held next month

APEC host committee looking for someone to design displays

Homeless likely to be cleared from H-1 ramps before APEC

State tries to charm China

APEC host committee looking for someone to design displays

APEC host committee needs 1,200 volunteers

Clinton will attend APEC forum

$5M cut will not hurt APEC preparation

Economic forecast could trigger special legislative session

Prostitution expected to surge for APEC

Caterers, uniform maker sought for APEC

APEC has spotlight for isle business

APEC conferees will see greener Nimitz Highway

Reports aim to aid homeless

APEC committee looks for projects to promote

Hotels vie to host APEC participants

APEC host committee seeks publication to promote economic investment in isles

Neurologists' skull session held in isles

City budgets $45 million for security during APEC

Roadways, airport to get upgrades for conference

Students learn intricacies of diplomacy

HPD allots $20M for APEC event

Obama to return to Hawaii for APEC

Rail, schools and APEC challenge isles

APEC's Hawaii committee seeks marketing and communications proposals

APEC meetings open with talk of Pacific Rim free-trade pact

Asia-Pacific leaders vow to work for freer trade

Honolulu meeting will look at security for APEC summit

APEC summit expected to bring $120M

APEC to boost hotels

Honolulu APEC conference given national security designation

Who'll rule Asia-Pacific trade?

APEC bigs might get to see strike, snakes and homeless

A good motivation to help homeless

Train cab drivers, others to be Hawaii ambassadors during APEC summit

APEC meeting a chance to promote 'Value of Hawaii'

Hawaii and APEC: It's about relationships

APEC presents isle firms with a chance to network

Helping the homeless is welcome byproduct of preparing for APEC


APEC needs aloha touch, not just high-tech feel

 Print   Email   Comment | View 18 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
tigerwarrior wrote:
What the mainstream media usually fails to report is that poverty and income inequality are rapidly accelerating in virtually every country on earth today largely due to globalization. If we have it bad here in the U.S., just imagine how horrid it must be in third world countries. What multinational corporations fail to admit is that in many countries wealth generated by globalization does not trickle down to the working class and poor but instead is locked in at the top. To suggest that globalization helps the poor is at best, high cynicism, and at worst, an outright lie, considering that many of these multinational corporations rely heavily on cheap labor. Even in advanced nations, globalization has put downward pressure on wages. For example according to the Economic Policy Institute, it is estimated that over the course of the next two decades, globalization could erase all of the wage gains made over the past three decades by workers without a four-year degree. Even in cases where the regulation of globalization policies are enforced by organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank, some argue that these policies usually create even more poverty than solve it. Lastly, export drive globalization is the biggest cause of ecological destruction.
on November 6,2011 | 02:55AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Hard to believe you're correct, having traveled/lived in many of the APEC countries over the last 40 years. Living standards appear to be vastly improved. Korea and Thailand are two examples. While you are probably correct regarding low wages, and exploitation, I also remember, in both countries, seeing a great deal of subsistence farming, squalid living conditions, and little opportunity for wages of any kind. It's not as if this globalization thing just began. It dates to the earliest explorers. What is your alternative?
on November 6,2011 | 06:03AM
tiki886 wrote:
Do "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"? No, it's just a liberal, progressive slogan to justify taxing everyone. That is a statement that reflects the liberal progressive view of their world rather than what the IRS data presents. The majority of the population started out 'poor' because mom and dad were paying our bills. After 10 to 20 years most of us moved out of the "poor" catagory and now are in the middle or upper middle income bracket. Some, like Bill Gates went from a garage operation to the one percent super rich. Those who started out poor, who are still in that catagory after 10 to 20 years probably know the reason why they are still there. You don't need a multi million dollar government survey to uncover that reason. Being "rich" or "poor" is a not a permanent condition. If you are rich, you can still lose it all. And if you look at your own life, you know that most of us moved up the income ladder over time. What the liberals and progressives want to do is slam the door shut on everyone to prevent them from becoming rich because in their mind, it is only greed and corruption that gets you into that bracket. Based on their own definition, all the rich and powerful liberals and progressives like George Soros, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and the rich democrats in Congress are all corrupt and greedy.
on November 6,2011 | 10:00AM
wiliki wrote:
Nope what has really hurt American workings is the busting of the unions over the last 30 years by Republican politicians. I think that an argument can be made that global competition have been good for the US. In some markets, we've learned to compete on an international basis and the competition has made our own companies more efficient and innovative. The global competition has been a miracle for developing countries like China and Turkey who have lifted a huge number of their poor out of poverty by the increased trade. The Kyoto Protocol is working. Countries like China and Germany have been making a lot of progress in reducing their carbon emissions. It is too expensive to stop progress. Control of carbon emissions must be made DESPITE a lot of polluting companies.
on November 6,2011 | 11:05AM
tiki886 wrote:
Oh c'mon, carbon control is just a scheme for taxing everyone into submission. There is no such thing as man-made global warming. Warming is just a natural cyclical event. What is man-made is the the confiscation of wealth throught the cap and tax scheme.
on November 6,2011 | 11:15AM
wiliki wrote:
Pure Republican propaganda that you're spouting.
on November 6,2011 | 11:22AM
JPM wrote:
Writers need to stop using “free” trade/market. When you trade with countries that have government controlled economies, allow monopolistic companies, and have no concern for the workers or environment it is impossible to have a “free” anything. America has simply turned their back on the free market/trade idea. We didn’t see the price of goods decrease or benefit economically like promised, but we continue to support it. We have a global market with 9% unemployment and the fastest growing divide between the rich and poor. Given the countries we trade with that is what you would expect.
on November 6,2011 | 06:04AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Didn't see price of goods decrease? What? Prices on almost everything have fallen, a lot, especially if you consider the pretty astounding growth in both quality and variety of most of the goods we consume. Free trade has it's problems, but price competition doesn't seem to be one of them.
on November 6,2011 | 06:47AM
JPM wrote:
We are suffering from inflation and stockholders took the economic advantages intended for the consumer and workforce. The only thing cheaper today are products cheaply designed. We have created a throwaway society that has to collect antiques to get a quality product. Again, the countries we trade with are not free even if we use your imagination (which is grand) so please stop misusing that word.
on November 6,2011 | 07:20AM
wiliki wrote:
A little inflation is good for our economy. It encourages companies to invest their money instead of hanging on to it. However, low inflation like we've had in recent years is no good-- one percent or less.
on November 6,2011 | 11:08AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Uh, I didn't use either word. Every electronic thing in my house either cost less than in years past or is of so much higher quality than similar items in the past that there's no way to compare. The inflation adjusted cost of owning a car has gone down since 1978 and the quality and features of current cars are beyond comparison with the old versions. Can't say the same for medical care, but that is at least partly a product of government intervention.
on November 6,2011 | 11:09AM
Leewardboy wrote:
Free-trade = loss of American jobs. Free-trade = higher profits for corporations who export production to cheaper labor markets. Ultimately it turns the U.S. into a consumer society where we will have little real manufacturing capacity and end up importing manufactured goods and exporting food. Look at our trade imbalance with Mexico since NAFTA. APEC suggests trade policies, WTO and other "world bodies" implement them and the only one's who benefit are the huge, multi-national corporations.
on November 6,2011 | 07:03AM
cojef wrote:
So far you have best described what my sentiments are regarding how to dismantle our former economic engine that was the envy of the world. To compete with the cheap labor force abroad we have exported our technology and in some instances machinery off-shore to the detriment of our labor force. We are not currently graduating enough engineers or scientist to be able to compete in the coming future. It is later than we think. Our unemployment rate will decline slowly, not to our liking, as people start to have faith in our economy. In the meantime, money lost in your Roth IRA's will not recover to its former value. I've been retired over 20 years and probably wil not see our unemployment rate drop down to 4.5% again, ever. Sad
on November 6,2011 | 09:33AM
Kuniarr wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 6,2011 | 08:10AM
wiliki wrote:
Nope what the country needs is less foreign currency control. It's bad for the country doing it as well. For example, even if American goods might be cheaper with the control, the Chinese will not be able to easily buy them. This is a controversial topic iin foreign countries because of the fear of upsetting their own economies. But it makes the recovery harder. A good example of this is Iceland. Their exports have show poor growth because of financial controls. The was a conference there recently on there now proclaimed recovery success. Paul Krugman from the US speaks on the third video clip. Here is a link to the conference. http://www.imf.org/external/np/seminars/eng/2011/isl/index.htm To increase our exports to China we need to encourage them to give up their financial controls of the Remimbi.
on November 6,2011 | 11:20AM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 6,2011 | 09:43AM
cojef wrote:
There's no "free" trade when rice is concerned in Japan. As you say they will find a reason for providing an exception. It's a one -sided agreement. In most cases its in my favor, and since you are richer and bigger, you will have make the sacrifices, so that we can benefit from your generosity.
on November 6,2011 | 10:44AM
kennysmith wrote:
here is a question for any one to try to answer this if they can?, WHERE IS THE FREE TRADE AT ANY WHERE? ? ?
on November 6,2011 | 10:21AM
Papakolea wrote:
There are pros and cons of both free trade and protectionism. As an example, there is a 2.5% tax plus $0.54 per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol in the US. This brings the total tariff to about $0.60 per gallon. While this protects the American farmers who are growing the feed stock for ethanol, it raises the cost of gasoline and food for the American people. On the flip side, without the tariff, food and fuel prices would be lower but the American farmers would not be able to compete. Pick your poison.
on November 6,2011 | 01:43PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Look at the entire spectrum of civilization-- it is patently clear that industrialization, capitalism and its associated free-trade characteristics is TANTAMOUNT to the massive gains in living standards for all countries and peoples who adopt such principles. We would be living in THIRD WORLD DUMPS were it not for free-trade. There are numerous EXAMPLES of this even today, in places where there is little to no free-trade: much of Africa, parts of the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Yes capitalism isn't PERFECT, and there is bound to be inefficiencies, but it is far and away SUPERIOR to any other system the world has devised.
on November 7,2011 | 10:12AM
Political Radar
On policy

Warrior Beat
Apple fallout

Wassup Wit Dat!
Can You Spock ‘Em?

Warrior Beat
Meal plan

Volley Shots
Fey, Enriques on MJNT

Political Radar
Wilhelmina Rise, et al.

Court Sense
Cold War