U.S. Inadvertently Proves Free Trade Doesn’t Work; Sanctions Made Better Russian Ag Eco, Food Independence
Over the past few decades, Americans may well have become the most heavily propagandized people on the face of the earth. This propaganda push reached a fever pitch after 9/11 and has intensified with each passing year, with Americans becoming more and more disconnected from reality by the month.
In 2017, hysteria and fear over the Russians, non-existent Russian hacking, and the most insane conspiracy theories surrounding Putin and Russia in general is running through the reporting of every single mainstream corporate media outlet, creating the environment in which a second Cold War can flourish and in which half of the country has been turned into political paranoid schizophrenics. Thus, when the United States imposed sanctions on Russia for defending national sovereignty, fighting terrorism, and opposing the Western financier agenda of world hegemony, these unfortunate American souls tended to believe that America had really done a number on the Russian economy. After all, the same media that tells them daily that they are out of the “recession” also tells them that the Russians are suffering under America’s regime of sanctions.
Likewise, Americans are incessantly reminded that Free Trade is here to stay and that, despite it having been a miserable failure ever since day one, the United States needs more free trade if it’s ever going to “get back on track.” The few Americans who remember such things as tariffs are told that tariffs are dangerous relics of a bygone era of scary “nationalism” and even that they are racist. Indeed, the river of propaganda runs thick in America.
But what about these issues? What can we learn from the actual data and from the actual chain of events?
Ironically, the Americans sanctions implemented against Russia have had the opposite of the intended effect, particularly in the area of food production. This is an incredibly important point because what it proves is that Free Trade and “lower tariffs” simply don’t work. In fact, they serve as the “giant sucking sound” for jobs to flee to countries with little respect for workers or human rights and who have much lower living standards. The imposition of tariffs and the lack of Free Trade neoliberalism lead directly to a healthier economy.
Take a look at the news coming from Russia’s agricultural and food sectors as reported by Sputnik News. The outlet reports,
The share of imports in the Russian retail sector dropped to 36% in the first quarter of 2017, hitting lows unseen since 2008, when measurement of the indicator first started. Food imports have dropped even further, down from 34% in 2014, to 24% in 2017, according to the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Fresh figures from the Russian state statistics agency Rosstat show that the share of imports in Russian retail trade have dropped steadily over a three year period, from 43% in Q1 2014, to 41% in Q1 2015, to 38% in Q1 2016, to 36% in Q1 2017. The agency says the indicator is at its lowest level since 2008, when measurement first began.
. . . . .
“This is the result of the special economic measures taken by Russian in response to Western sanctions. Before these events, in 2014, the share of imported foodstuffs was 34%,” the Ministry said.
In August 2014, after the US and its allies introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow announced countermeasures, slapping an effective embargo on most agricultural products from countries which had adopted economic sanctions against Russia. Since then, Moscow has repeatedly renewed the measures for three years. Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin prolongedthe sanctions again, this time until 2019.
According to Rosstat’s Q1 2017 statistics, food security figures are particularly impressive in the category of cereals, where imports account for just 0.2% of the total. Other mostly-domestic food categories include sausage products (1.6%), flour (1.8%), poultry (4.1%), and pork (8.3%). Cheese imports remain high (27.7%), although they too have declined significantly since 2014, when 48.4% of all cheese being sold in Russia was imported.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, another important factor explaining dropping food imports is that many foreign companies have invested in production in Russia, “thus transferring the products of these companies from the category of imports to the category of goods produced in our country. This is beneficial both for our economy and producers.”
Earlier this year, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Evtukhov reported that Russia had reached 95-100% sufficiency in bread, milk, sugar, cereals, meat, fish, eggs and pasta.
Many major Russian food retailers have made it a conscious business strategy to focus on reducing the share of imports in their stores. A spokesman from Russian mega supermarket chain Magnit told Izvestia that the share of imported goods in its network was less than 8%, and even less for foodstuffs. Imported foods include seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as products that simply aren’t produced in Russia.
According to the Russian Institute of Agricultural Marketing, Russian companies are actively working to expand the use of greenhouses, which will allow imports of fresh vegetables to fall to less than 20%, down from 35% today, as soon as next year. This will ensure Russian food security in this area even during Russia’s long, harsh winters.
Finally, the decline in the exchange value of the Russian ruble has played its role in decreasing imports, increasing the price for imported goods while making agricultural exports significantly more competitive.
In other words, due to the West’s sanctions, Russia has been forced to stop importing food and products from other countries, specifically those who agreed to go along with America’s sanctions, and produce its food at home. The result? More domestic production. More domestically produced food. Less imports. More jobs. In fact, Russia is even moving toward total food independence.
Who would have thought that less globaloney (free trade and neoliberal economics) would lead to more jobs at home? The answer is pretty much everyone who understands anything about economics.
While the West may have been trying to teach Russia a lesson about challenging its agenda at home and abroad, what it really did was send a message not only to Russia but also the rest of the world that producing your own food and relying on your own domestic industry for what you can produce at home – i.e. ending Free Trade policies – equals more jobs and greater independence.
If the Russians are smart, they will not sit around waiting for more American sanctions to prod them to move forward with ending Free Trade neoliberal policies, they will immediately implement tariffs on goods than can be produced at home, and begin moving away from the WTO mechanism.
Unfortunately for America and for many citizens of nations across the world, an entire generation of human beings are being born who will have no concept of higher living standards and no memory of the tragedy of Free Trade policies. The generation of Americans that remembers when America had reached its economic height is quickly dying out. My own generation who grew up watching their hometowns die and listening to the giant sucking sound of our parents’ jobs heading to Mexico and then on to China, may have memories of accelerated destruction but no knowledge of what caused the collapse.
The generation entering the workforce today has only known an economic wasteland and that the solutions being peddled are simply “more free trade” that caused the problem to begin with and lies that, if we just complete the process, things will get better. A new generation has only heard that tariffs are evil relics of fascism and that ending free trade equates to hating brown people.
The truth, of course, is that Free Trade has wrecked the living standards of people all across the world and is possibly the greatest economic scam in history save for private central banking. The United States has inadvertently reminded the Russians of the fallacy of Free Trade and it is the hope of anyone interested in economic independence and the ability to move forward in the 21st Century that the Russians grasp hold of this fact and move toward a nation based on production and higher living standards. Likewise, the United States must acknowledge the failure of Free Trade and begin dismantling the litany of disastrous trade deals such as NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, and various Chinese trade agreements as well as the WTO. Each time Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility of “renegotiation,” the Western corporate media has had seizures fits. But we have heard rhetoric before and simple “renegotiation” isn’t enough. Free Trade globalism has to be dismantled.
Ending Free Trade and neoliberal economics is not a left or right issue but, as a result of the enrichment coming to international banks and corporations as a result of its implementation, it is easy to see just why both parties are united in support of it. Trade must obviously continue but exploitation cannot.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies,Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria,and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 1,000 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.