Anti WTO organisations speak out

Why are people opposed to free trade and the World Trade Organisation? Four groups representing tens of millions of people worldwide explain in their own words.

Pie in the face welcomes president of the Free Trade Area of the Americas
Pie in the face welcomes president of the Free Trade Area of the Americas

Via Campesina is a global network of over 100 million farmers in 70 countries.

“The ‘liberalisation’ of agricultural trade has exacerbated a crisis in rural societies that has worsened their living conditions. Hunger, unemployment, poverty, inequality and the degradation of natural resources are increasing in rural areas around the world.”

“The WTO Agreement on Agriculture has no legitimacy. Instead, it serves the interests of large export companies that are supported by their governments. The USA and the EU have forced WTO rules that enable them to continue to dump their surpluses at very low prices. Meanwhile developing countries are obliged to reduce their tariffs and eliminate protection to agriculture.”

Pakistani farmers display their
anti-WTO placards feelings in
Islamabad in August

 “One of the WTO’s priorities is to reduce agriculture prices by reducing taxes on imports. This leads to artificially depressed prices, which threatens the survival of small farmers everywhere.”

“Trans-national corporations are increasing their control over global agricultural trade. They flood markets with agricultural products and food prices lower than the cost of production.”

Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political and social justice.

“The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is another example of the free-market fundamentalism that has created a global race-to-the-bottom threatening the environment, families’ livelihoods, human rights, and democracy.”

“Basic labour rights and the interests of working families are eroded by ‘free trade’ agreements that lack enforceable labour protections. Corporations move high-paying jobs to countries with lower wages and bust unionization drives with threats to transfer production abroad.”

“’Free trade’ agreements have destroyed ecosystems around the world. Many countries in the global South cut down their forests, over fish their waters and exploit other natural resources to earn hard currency.”

“The FTAA would expand rules on monopoly patents to the whole hemisphere. This means that companies with a patent in one country will have the exclusive right to market their products throughout the hemisphere.”

Filipino demonstrators ralliedagainst WTO in Manila on Tuesday 

Filipino demonstrators rallied
against WTO in Manila on Tuesday 

“The FTAA is expected to contain commitments to privatize services such as education, health care, and energy and water utilities.”

The FTAA would allow corporations to sue governments for compensation if they feel that any government action, including the enforcement of public health and safety laws, cuts into their profits.”

The World Development movement is a non-government organisation tackling the underlying causes of poverty.

“An Investment Agreement will, in time, erode governments’ ability to effectively regulate foreign investors to achieve development objectives in the mining, manufacturing, fisheries and agriculture sectors.”

“The Competition Policy Agreement will require developing countries to develop inappropriate western-style competition regimes in order to ensure market access for western multinational companies.”

“The Transparency in Government Procurement Agreement will require countries to publish details of government procurement contracts; it is seen as a first step towards requiring governments not to discriminate when purchasing goods.”

“Trade facilitation, or customs procedures, will require countries to improve the efficiency of their customs procedures.”

“These rules will undermine poor countries’ ability to regulate their economies, prevent poor countries from participating fully in WTO negotiations, due to the overloaded agenda and cost poor countries money to implement, deflecting valuable resources.”

The Hemispheric and Global Assembly against the Free Trade of the Americas and the World Trade Organisation was held in Mexico City on 11-12 May 2003.

“The WTO Ministerial will take place in the context of escalating US military aggression against the peoples and nations of the world. Washington’s invasion and occupation of Iraq is simply the latest and most outrageous case of the Bush administration’s unrestrained unilateralist foreign policy.”

“The WTO is war by other means. The WTO represents the most ambitious effort to re-subjugate the economies of the countries of the South to serve the interests of trans-national corporations. Its legacy is greater poverty, inequity, gender inequality, and indebtedness throughout the world. It has also accelerated the destruction of the global environment.”

“Eight years of the WTO is enough. We say the last thing Latin America needs is the FTAA.”

Source: Al Jazeera

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