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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/19/16

Panama Trade Agreement: Was Tax Evasion The Point All Along?

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Those were the warnings.

Were Tax Evasion And Corporate Secrecy The Point Of The Panama Agreement?

Ending Panama's bank and corporate secrecy was not a part of the Bush administration's "trade" negotiations with Panama. A last-minute "side agreement" with the Obama administration did nothing to fix the problems. The agreement actually restricted the ability to do anything about Panama's bank and corporate secrecy.

Since this was the main effect of the agreement -- regardless of how it was sold to us -- maybe that was the point all along.

Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, writes about this in "Panama, Trade Agreement Promises & The TPP" at The Huffington Post:

"An actual review of the data ... shows that the FTA seems to have incentivized more tax haven activity in Panama, not less.

"... the [Panama Papers] firm increased its use of Panama to shelter its clients' assets at the very time that the trade pact talks were gearing up. ... the firm began to shift to Panama as a prime tax haven venue in 2003, the year the Bush administration notified Congress it intended to start FTA negotiations. By the time talks were formally launched in 2004, the firm's use of Panama had doubled. When the pact was concluded in 2006, the Panama number had tripled."

Wallach explains how the free trade agreement (FTA) with Panama consolidated that country's position as a place for the wealthy and corporations to go to evade taxes and transparency:

"The standard U.S. FTA model forbids limits on inflows or outflows of capital, providing security for those seeking to stash funds offshore. It also provides additional foreign investor protections that have been interpreted to require signatories to compensate an investor if the government changes policies, for instance its secrecy and tax haven laws, on which investors relied in making investments."

Tax evasion and corporate secrecy, maybe that was the point all along.

It is time to reform our country's entire trade policy process. The result of our trade policies so far are tax evasion; jobs shipped out of the country; companies empowered to threaten workers with moving their jobs out of the country, too, if they ask for raises and benefits; corporations granted special courts with which to overrule regulations and protections...

So far it looks like the point of the whole game is helping the wealthy and corporations evade the borders of our democracy. So far it looks like maybe that was the point all along.

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Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational (more...)

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