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Dear Public Citizen Supporter,
Next week, trade ministers from the 148 countries that are World Trade Organization (WTO) members will meet in Hong Kong for the 6th WTO Ministerial. Tens of thousands of protestors from Asia and around the globe are expected to greet trade ministers and WTO proponents in demonstration against the failed "trade" and globalization model that the WTO champions.
Why do people care so much about a seemingly arcane international organization, and why does any of it matter to you?
Because the WTO, as you can learn over the course of our daily "FAIRTRADE" e-mail updates next week during the Hong Kong Ministerial, isn't really just about "trade." Rather, the WTO is a global governance body of, for and by powerful corporate interests. A decade ago, the good name of trade got hijacked by a pack of special interests who cooked up the WTO and its 17 non-trade global agreements. So the WTO is really about protecting corporate intellectual property rights that drive up the price of essential medicines both here and abroad. It's about privatizing and deregulating basic public services like healthcare, education, energy and water and turning them into commodities to be controlled by for-profit business. It's about labeling our basic food safety, environmental and product safety standards as illegal trade barriers. It's about putting control over daily life into the hands of unaccountable "trade" tribunals and multinational corporations rather than in elected national or local governments.
After 10 years, the WTO has also proven to be an abject failure in its stated mission of increasing global economic growth. In fact, after a decade of WTO corporate rule, $2-a-day extreme poverty has increased in developing countries, while the United State has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs and seen our median real wages pushed down to 1972 levels. Sadly, fixing this disaster is not on the table at Hong Kong.
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (GTW) team is excited to present you with daily updates next week live from the Hong Kong Ministerial. Sign up for GTW's FAIRTRADE e-mail list to keep abreast of the latest developments halfway across the world that will have tremendous effects on us right here at home.
For more information, visit our Hong Kong website or order a copy of GTW Director Lori Wallach's authoritative book on the WTO, Whose Trade Organization: A Comprehensive Guide to the WTO.
The Global Trade Watch Team