The Real Pirates of the Caribbean: U.S. High Tech Industry’s False CAFTA Promises Disguise Bad Policy

Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech) Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA-IFPTE Local 2001) American Ingenuity Alliance (AIA)

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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Today, workers in the U.S. high technology industry are experiencing the failures of U.S. trade policy first-hand. In spite of this experience, the U.S. high tech industry, with Microsoft playing a prominent role, is lobbying Members of Congress to vote for the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), claiming the agreement will boost U.S. high tech exports and thus U.S. jobs. This report demonstrates that CAFTA will not lead to a significant boost in U.S. high tech exports, and instead could, through the expansion of highly controversial copyright rules, undermine innovation and freedom of expression.

In recent years, the loss of good jobs, downward pressure on wages, and deterioration of working conditions traditionally experienced in non-high tech manufacturing due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has increasingly spread to the high tech sector, in part as a result of international trade and investment agreements that increase global competition in a sector the United States has long dominated. U.S. high tech workers have seen the U.S. high tech industry ship hundreds of thousands of jobs off shore in the past few years, have had to bargain with increasingly mobile employers who use global competition as a justification for keeping down wages and benefits, and have decried employer abuse of temporary visa programs to bring lower wage workers from abroad into the United States to perform work once done by U.S. residents.