01 marzo 2006

Día de Celebración

HOY PRIMERO DE MARZO DE 2006 entró en vigencia el tratado de libre comercio entre El Salvador y los EEUU. Vale la pena revisitar los logros de la primera década del TLCAN, también conocido por sus siglas en inglés NAFTA, de acuerdo a análisis del Banco Mundial:

Sin el TLCAN, en México:

  • las exportaciones globales habrían bajado aproximadamente en un 25 por ciento
  • la inversión extranjera directa (IED) habría sido inferior en un 40 por ciento
  • el ingreso per cápita mexicano en 2002 habría sido un 4 por ciento inferior

Trabajadores, salarios y empleos en México:
  • Existen escasas pruebas de impactos adversos del TLCAN sobre los trabajadores
  • Los salarios y el desempleo tienden a ser más altos en los estados con niveles superiores de comercio e inversión extranjera directa y la emigración de esos estados es más baja.
  • Los salarios también son más altos en aquellos sectores con más exposición a las importaciones o exportaciones
No todo resultó perfecto, especialmente en el agro: los involucrados en agro de exportación mejoraron, y el agro de consumo nacional y de subsistencia no mejoró ni empeoró.

En resumen, el TLCAN fué un éxito para México, y CAFTA será un éxito para El Salvador.

¡Felicidades todos!

2 comentarios:

Tim dijo...

Creo que no. Mis argumentos contra TLC están aquí

El-Visitador dijo...

Tim tiene un muy bien escrito argumento, desafortunadamente en inglés, donde indica "aquí" (arriba).

Como me pareció que sus esfuerzos no podían quedar incontestados, escribí un comentario en su bitácora, que cito a continuación, para poder referirme a él en el futuro. Con disculpas a los lectores de habla castellana:

You are correct that CAFTA will not be an economic boom for CA because of lower US tariffs, because we already have few. No: CAFTA will be a boom because El Salvador agreed to protect foreign investment and to binding arbitration. Our courts are pits of non-functioning misery: outsourcing economic disputes to arbitration firms or U.S. courts means, for the very first time in history, that investors can sink their funds in large projects here, and be relatively safe. It is only because of CAFTA that AES can plan a carbon plant here, to provide the power and jobs that we so desperately need. Eventually, steel, manufacture, even silicon should be able to follow.

CAFTA forces Central American countries to lower many barriers to imports from the subsidized US agricultural sector. True. But, first, without CAFTA, we would not have gotten even the microscopic increases to sugar we got. This is realpolitik, not an ideal world. Something is better than nothing. Second, hey!, if US taxpayers want to subsidize the US chicken industry so that Maria can purchase cheaper wings at the Mercado, I have no beef with that. Salvadoreans will not be able to compete in wheat or chicken, but will learn to sell tomatoes and avocados. You'll see. And thanks for the subsidized Wisconsin corn! Made this pupusa that much cheaper.

Were farmers, including those at the subsistence level, adversely impacted in Mexico 10 years post-NAFTA? The World Bank does not think so. I have linked to it on El-Visitador. This was a canard hoisted by opponents to free trade, and evidence a decade later shows it was fakery.

"So there needs to be job creation for the rural to urban migration of displaced agricultural workers," you say. But is this agricultural displacement doomsday realistic? Here is what happened in Mexico: "there is little evidence of adverse impacts of NAFTA on workers [...] Wages and employment tend to be higher in states with higher FDI and trade, and out migration from those states is lower. Wages are also higher in sectors with more exposure to imports or exports." President Tony Saca of ES may talk about creating jobs exporting traditional Salvadoran foods like pupusas, but the poor fellow could not tell a calorie from a carb. You can safely ignore the ignoramus. ES will export jewelry boxes, clothing, and, once foreign direct investment comes in, electric wire harnesses and toys.

Is El Salvador trading away some sovereignty? Arguably. Do you give up some rights when you walk into an airport and have to submit photo ID, being searched, abandon property the State may consider dangerous such as screwdrivers, and limit, for instance, the amount of cash on yourself, under severe penalties? Should you stay incommunicado at home? It's your choice. Both the US and ES have chosen, through their legislative bodies, that (freer) trade is worthwile.

Will Salvadorean worker rights be weakened? First of all, when you do not have a job, flipping burgers sounds pretty good, though upper middle class pundits may wince at the concept. And Salvadoreans need jobs, desperately. Second, jobs are voluntary. If your boss is abusive, you can leave. As a result, it is disingenuous to argue that workers are "exploited" ---we are not a serf society. Any person who thinks the job's disadvantages outweigh its advantages can leave, and they do, in ES, every day. Third, workers in ES have rights US jobbers can only dream of. Overtime at 50% and even 100% higher. Mandatory severance, accrued at 1 month salary for every year worked. Mandatory medical insurance (unfortunately, administered by the State through ISSS, so pretty pretty bad). Mandatory pension contributions, 401(k)-style. And Tim, if you are a company of any size, say 50 people, you can't avoid these. I'm sorry. You cannot. The State will encroach you and cease issuing solvencias and permits until you cannot function. People will show up in the newspapers and stuff, especially when businesses go bankrupt (duh!), but for 99.999% of workers, these benefits are guaranteed and a daily reality. The issue in ES is not people getting shafted by employers. People leave the country because simply they cannot get a decent job. We need jobs. We need investment.

As to pharma and intellectual property, I'll leave it for another day. Suffice it to say ES has not invented any useful medicaments I am aware of, and we should be grateful that people in Germany, Switzerland, the UK, the US and elsewhere have invested their money for about 200 yrs, so we can enjoy a readily available 25¢ Aspirina Bayer or a $100 retroviral shot. We truly are a beneficiary of market externalities.

On balance, CAFTA is a great deal for Central America, and that is why March 1st was a great day for our nation.