Zeitgeist Magazine, for the story behind the news
Issue 3,
Volume 10,
16 June 303 AP

The Story
behind the news.
Utania's attraction to business
Hope's missing agenda
Will Cryer rule forever

& Eras
Rovens: Is PIMR in the communist's pocket?
Zartania remembers the war
Ulnovabad's commercial missions

& Smalik
Club'NIZ to expand?

The Quadria
Porto Capital's new defence force
Westria's sixth year

Looking to a lighter future

Dyson's Lendosan suiter
Delacroix considers Utania
Osprey Technologies settles with the UEC

& Finance
The "Fair" trade agreement
Moun's Front legacy

RZOEAZ's Albionish 500
Vela Luka prepares for the Savant 350
Fiona Elma: diva?

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What IS a Zeitgeist?

Jerman for "Spirit of the Age". In this case it is to mean the "spirit" of the Utanian people, the magazine reporting the people's thoughts behind the press-releases and reported news.

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It is the policy of this magazine not to identify the authors of any Zeitgeist articles. It was conceived in the early days of this magazine, by our founder, Mr van der Hamm, when authors were being threatened by Guwimithian Authorities for their anti-Imperialist columns. Our founder endured jail time in Imperial prisons for his "insolence". Now, the policy is to demonstrate that this is a magazine, not a collection of authors.

© Zeitgeist Magazine, 302 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2002. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)
The Aethel-Vinnish "Fair" trade agreement

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Aside from being a little vague, with no definition of sustainable development, this magazine would question whether there is sufficient evidence to the effects of economic activities to properly define "sustainable development". Before any such clause could be implemented, significant research needs to be applied to define precisely what is required, yet this admission is surprisingly absent from the FTA.

There are also clauses calling for legislation "to ensure a maximum of recycling measures for materials" and for an independent body to make "a list of environmentally harmful materials". This is a good idea, but should be expanded to not only environmentally harmful, but harmful materials as a health and safety measure.

Once more, the FTA seems to assume much, such as that such classifications of dangerous materials is pre-existant, yet, this magazine can assure the authors that no such list exists in Utania, or in Rovens for that matter. If, on the other hand, the authors regard such a list as unnecessary, we shall be the first to remind them when the first accident in transport of toxic Benzene occurs.

Indeed, this is another possible criticism of the agreement: it assumes that signatories are wealthy nations. Of course, the two nations involved fit the profile, so it shouldn't be expected that they would have thought otherwise. Yet, if this agreement is to be the framework for "fair" trade around the world, some of its assumptions regarding the wealth of signatories must be challenged.

Not least, organising unemployment pensions would prove difficult in nations like South Bay, where a proper census of the nation is incomplete, thus keeping track of who is illegible for such a pension would prove impossible. Of course, this also assumes the government would be capable of paying such a pension. The governments of poor nations invariably do not have the spare cash to throw to the unemployed, assuming they could find them all, and prevent pension fraud.

To add atop these measures, a body to track environmentally unfriendly materials, establish recycling and implement "sustainable development" would be simply impossible for poorer nations' governments, that invariably struggle to just provide basic national infrastructure.

For the FTA to be applicable to the wider world, it would need to accept the role of wealthier nations in supporting the poorer to implement these measures, as is the case within the Burovian commonwealth. Simply mandating and threatening nations with expulsion from a FTA arena would be nothing short of counter-productive.

(Although, to be fair, and by way of further criticism of the FTA, there are no clauses in the current draft as yet deeming the penalties for non-compliance.)

Therefore, the FTA in its current form appears to assume much about the economic standing of the signatory nations.

Room for improvement

However, leaving these criticisms aside, some that can be remedied by a glossary and tighter objectives by the authors, the real question is whether any of these measures protect the future of capitalism. Sadly, the answer is "not really".

Establishing minimum rights for workers is a popular, worker-focused measure but it does little to protect the companies those workers are employed by from predatory actions of global competitors.

Once more, to be fair, the draft we have viewed is incomplete, devoid of any clauses aimed at protection of local culture so triumphally promised in the early press statements of intent.

Therefore, given the authors are still writing, Zeitgeist has some suggestions for their consideration.

Protecting capitalism

Unfair competition simply must be addressed, yet this magazine concedes that guidelines for unfair competition resemble those for Governor Cryer's definition of "immoral behaviour": We'll know it when we see it. "Dumping" of goods has been a difficult field for international trade lawyers to demonstrate in the past, yet this does not mean that measures should not be undertaken.

Should national government define minimum prices for goods, thus preventing predatory underpricing by foreign competitors? Perhaps a less rigid definition could be applied. The President's "economic cabinet" recently floated the idea of a Consumer and Competition agency that will monitor the market for any anti- competitive behaviour, and even prosecute offenders. Clearly, expanding this umbrella to include foreign companies may prove unpopular with multi-national corporations, but may be the best first-draft of local-level defence.

This segues nicely into the next issue: Lack of government resolve.

Unfortunately, it is, again, not a situation that can be easily combatted, but is one that the progressive framers of the FTA must consider. If a single nation acts to censure certain corporate behaviours, what is to stop that corporation from using its size not from bullying other companies, but from bullying the government itself?

Bribery is not new in the developing world, giving politicians a nicely pliable nature for an unscupulous corporation, and neutralising any good measures of the FTA. Therefore, while it is not typically a favourite consideration of leftist political philosophers, government transparency must be a cornerstone of the FTA.

A free media, and freedom of speech simply must be enshrined in the framework of the FTA for any of these measures to succeed. Furthermore, a sound and properly- functioning independent judiciary must also be mandatory. repressive techniques of either government, of companies or illegal businesses should not be tolerated as they undermine the very principles of "free trade", let alone those of "fair" trade.

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