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Global Trade: Neither Free Nor Fair

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Although the advent of so-called free trade has made it much easier for goods and services to cross borders, it hasn’t always made life better for average people. On this edition we’ll hear how workers in Ghana are struggling to cope with the pressures of globalization. We’ll also take a look at the ballooning United States trade deficit, and examine the fair trade label.

Featuring:

Jorg Bergstermann, resident director, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung; Daniel Kubwafo, poultry farmer; Sam Hansen, agriculture ministry district director, Twifo Hemang Lower Denkirya; Andrew Esemezie, managing director, Supra Telecom Ghana; Marilyn Sandifur, public relations manager, Port of Oakland; Mark Weisbrot, co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research; Josh Bivens, trade economist, Economic Policy Institute; Benjamin Powell, research fellow, Independent Institute; Kevin Danaher, co-founder and public education director, Global Exchange; Colleen Crosby, coffee shop owner; Kimberly Eason, strategic relations director, TransFair USA; Iris Mungia, first secretary of women, Coalition of Latin American Banana Unions; Steve Gliessman, director, Community Agroecology Network.

For more information:

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung – Accra, Ghana;

Supra Telecom

Port of Oakland
Marilyn Sandifur

Center for Economic and Policy Research – Washington, DC

Economic Policy Institute – Washington, DC

Independent Institute – Oakland, CA

Global Exchange – San Francisco, CA

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company – Watsonville, CA

TransFair USA – Oakland, CA

Community Agroecology Network – Santa Cruz, CA

Coalition of Latin American Banana Unions – San Pedro, Sula Cortes, Honduras C.A.


Review of this program on PRX (Public Radio Exchange):

Posted: 05-16-2005
Reviewer: Geo Beach, Independent Producer

With “Global Trade: Neither Free Nor Fair”, National Radio Project rolls out a half-hour of well-produced straight-ahead radio that takes on globalism in three neat segments – the curious do-see-do of outsourcing, the burgeoning US trade deficit, and the “fair” trade movement that attempts to return mankind to the increasingly monetized equation of international relations.

Rupert Cook leads off with an especially fine piece from not Asia, America (Latin), or Australia, but from globalism’s lost continent, Africa. US rice and chicken are now counterintuitively cheaper than homegrown in Accra; on the other hand New York City parking tickets are now processed in Ghana. Cook gets on the ground with poultry farmers and African bureaucrats and then pulls Jorg Bergstermann from a German think tank for analysis, which yields a nicely broader perspective than the usual Beltway suspects might.

Justin Beck follows with an instructional piece on the trends and ramifications of America’s overseas shopping sprees, which provides good clarity on deficit issues, but unfortunately allows the Orwellian jargon of Wall Street (“outsourced”, “downward pressure on wages”, “displacement”, “decentralized decision-making”) to pass unchallenged.

Vinnie Lombardo wraps with a story about the maturation of “Fair Trade”, which began with coffee drinkers who, like Mia in Sideways, mused on their beverage –and who then actually did something about the pickers they discovered at the far end of their substance pipeline, organizing the trade to pay a decent standard of living. Remarkably, this dreamy do-gooderism has been adopted by Dunkin’ Donuts and Win Dixie Supermarkets.

This edition of NRP’s “Making Contact” doesn’t plunge into advocacy journalism, but it does provide more punch than standard NPR fare, while maintaining sharp production standards. “Neither Free Nor Fair” is worthy to pre-empt a roll-over half-hour of one of the magazines.

Rating: 4/5
Adjectives: NPR NewsMagazine-y, Polished

Author: Sabine Blaizin

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