Friday, May 14, 2004

You might not think so, but this is big news (from the WSJ, subscription only).
At least four governors have pulled out of an agreement with U.S. trade officials committing their states to abide by trade pacts that would bar giving preferences to local businesses or restricting outsourcing. Governors including Iowa's Tom Vilsack, Missouri's Bob Holden, Pennsylvania's Edward Rendell and Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty -- three Democrats and a Republican -- have informed the office of the U.S. Trade Representative that they can't comply with the agreement, fearing it could make illegal certain practices that states use in awarding government contracts. Other states are considering a similar move, including Oregon.
All the WTO trade agreements deeply affect the ability of subnational governments to do all the things they are accustomed to doing: regulating banking, purchasing goods and services, zoning land use, etc. etc. In particular, when the US signed the plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement, it had to get the states to sign on board as well, many without any knowledge or idea of the implications of their acquiesence. About 2/3 of the states signed, but now we're seeing many second thoughts.

Subnational governments are a much neglected site of opposition to neoliberal forms of globalization. Use them or lose them!


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