A Decade of WTO Damage Energizes Global Opposition
Dear Fair Trade Activist,
Why are tens of thousands of protestors from around the world taking to the streets against the World Trade Organization (WTO)? Because of something we all share: we've had it with a decade of the WTO's damage to our jobs, standard of living, food safety and our democracy itself. As the 6th WTO Ministerial begins in Hong Kong, negotiators from the 148 WTO signatory countries aren't talking about how to fix the WTO's disasters. What will you do today to say "Enough!" to the WTO?
What's being discussed in Hong Kong is about so much more than just "trade." For instance, they're talking about services everything from the hospital in which you were born, the school you attended, the bank you use, TV and radio and internet, the stores you shop in and the undertaker who will bury you and lots more in between.
All that everyday service activity is covered by just one of the WTO's 17 non-trade agreements, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The GATS promotes privatization and deregulation of services so as to transform basic public services into new, for-profit tradable units. It sets limits on government regulation of everything from the provision of affordable drugs and access to health care to zoning and land-use policies.
Under GATS rules, our federal, state and local governments are forbidden from limiting the size or quantity of providers of a service covered by these rules. That means that governments, including state and local governments, could be prohibited from banning or limiting environmentally-harmful operations such as oil rigs and pipelines, water extraction, garbage incineration or ocean-front hotel or road construction. Ready for two McDonalds, a Wal-Mart and three 7-11s at the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall of China?
Why does the WTO include these rules that have nothing to do with trade in goods? Because the WTO is a global governing body created by, for and of big corporations, not public interests. This week in Hong Kong, WTO negotiators hope to expand harmful agreements like the GATS. We're trying to foil this plot.
Please take local action in your community this week: e-mail us to get connected!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's news and updates: Poverty on the Rise the WTO's Economic Failures.
The Global Trade Watch Team