World Trade Organisation - Exposed
16th Nov 1999
The World Trade Organisation has been set up to ensure that world trade is conducted on a 'flat' playing field. In theory this should mean that all countries and groups of employers are treated equally.
The clout of the WTO actually rests in a quad of countries: USA, UK, Japan and Canada. The countries enforce WTO decisions by imposing trade sanctions. The USA has little to fear if a 'minor' country threatens sanctions against the USA but the USA can destroy an entire economy overnight. It has also backed irritation over trade issues with covert threats of military action. The USA has filed nearly a third of all complaints considered by the WTO and has won 90% of them. Over the past 20 years the developing countries share of global trade has halved.
The WTO current aims are 'liberalisation' of trade across the world. The reality is very much different. Several big corporations such as Microsoft, Chiquita and Monsanto control the World Trade Organisations funding, and their funding allows "the greatest possible interactions" with organisers in return.
In the United Kingdom, for example, we have a National Health Service which in theory provides good quality health care for free. This Labour government under Tony Blair, is pushing through something called Private Finance Initiative which allows private investors and companies to control the NHS. This has been done to appease the healthcare giants from the USA who want a slice of the action and profits in the UK. The planned liberalisation of trade will make anything 'national', for example the national health service, to be open to competition.
The rationale behind this : Public ownership is "anti competitive". In the words of US Trade Negotiator Charlene Barschefsky: "Health care services in many foreign countries have largely been the responsibility of the public sector - [making] it difficult for US private sector health care providers to market in foreign countries".
We can all kiss goodbye to our national health service if these plans are taken up. We can also kiss goodbye to any hopes of nationalising anything from trains and the underground to the aviation authority. In fact, publicly owned schools will become a thing of the past - our children will be taught by Mr and Mrs McDonalds - just like in the USA. The WTO encourages privatisation and specifically to "allow more foreign ownership of health care facilities".
"Free trade" in the World Trade Organisation's view is forcing the European Union to accept hormone treated beef which is produced by multinational Monsanto. Even though this beef has not been tested properly for safety, and even though its' use makes the cows lives miserable, we, as members of the EU must accept this dirty beef onto our markets. If we don't then we can be sure that the USA will force us to.
Another example of 'free trade' is that of the Japanese "entrepreneurs". These charismatic people have recently discovered that Indian dishes such as Vindaloo and Chicken Madras have not been patented. Guess what? These lovely people are taking patents out on the names and ingredients meaning that millions of people in India, and possibly billions around the world will be unable to eat Vindaloo or Chicken Madras without incurring the full wrath of the patent laws.
The WTO allows pharmaceutical companies to stop developing countries producing cheap generic medicines rather than buying expensive branded drugs. The move has hit every country but in particular South Africa which cannot afford to treat its AIDS sufferers.
The WTO has made itself known by forbidding the European ban on asbestos. Whilst the WTO favours multinationals from around the world, it does nothing to lift tariffs on developing countries goods. If the IMF is to give aid, countries must often remove tariffs and open up their markets to the world.
The Environment is at risk from the WTO this year as well. One of Charlene's chief aims this year are plans to push through a Global Forest Products Agreement. This which will open up virgin forests to multinational logging corporations. It's not surprising that national parks and forests are anti-competitive. This agreement will increase forest product consumption by 3-4 percent every year.
The WTO may also override the Kyoto agreement to cut global carbon emissions as well. Cutting carbon emissions is anti-competitive. Banning GM products is also anti-competitive and companies such as Monsanto are keen to force the EU into growing these products commercially. Any labelling of GM seeds or foods containing GM crops is considered anti-competitive and will result in trade sanctions.
"Free trade" involves forcing EU countries to give up their banana growers abroad and force them to be bought out by US multinational Chiquita. This will put thousands out of jobs. In Nicaragua, the WTO was lobbied by these very companies to reduce the minimum wage from 0.60$ to 0.30$ an hour. Minimum wages are anti-competitive. No doubt the eventual product will be specially genetically modified and force fed to children as soon as they leave a mothers womb in the interests of free trade.
When will this madness end?
This years liberalisations could take three years to put into action. It will affect everyone living on this planet. It will affect food, water, wages, cultural identities, economies, health, and the environment.
Make sure you do your part to end this farce. This is your life. We as a world have a collective responsibility to act. Many thousands of events are planned worldwide. Who will stop this madness? Only the citizens of every country and region of the world. Don't trust your government - they have willingly joined this organisation. The WTO could die overnight if just one large country left it.
Archive: Nov 30th press release
November 30th 1999: It is unknown at present what form the demonstrations against the WTO will take. June the 18th 1999 saw a huge protest against capitalism. The police turned this event nasty and the end result was a number of injuries and many million pounds worth of damage to multinational companies. Right wing newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Times have tried to blame the damage on groups of people. Its hardly surprising that the backers of these right wing publishers feel threatened by this type of demonstration - most multinationals have fingers in several different puddings at a time.
For this reason, any similar protest has got be a surprise. The rise of the Internet marks the rise of a new school of protest - direct worldwide action. Several left wing publications have called for demonstrations in the UK. The largest demonstration will be seen in Seattle though others are planned for Germany, Argentina, Switzerland, Colombia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal. Lets make sure that England is well represented.
London - Update (15/11/99): Meet Euston station at 9:30am on the 30th of November. Called by Reclaim the Streets.
Oxford - Mobilisation against Globalisation : "Stop the W.T.O." Assemble at 5:30pm at Cornmarket on the 30th of November.
Write to the Minister of Trade: Richard Caborn, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET
Help fund anti-WTO newspaper ads: (Phone) +44 0174 620 4444
Attend a public meeting about the WTO in Room 14 House of Commons on 29th November.
Disclaimer: this is posted here for information purposes only and was emailed anonymously to urban75. We have no connection with any of the parties involved, neither do we condone the use of violence or breaking of the law. Blah blah blah.