Newsflash:
Rep. Barbara Lee Trans Pacific Partnership Anti-poverty groups condemn WTO pact as big business boost
Sunday, 08 December 2013 15:55

Anti-poverty groups condemn WTO pact as big business boost

Written by  Phillip Inman | The Guardian
A street market in the old quarters of Delhi. India sought safeguards, at the WTO, from US agricultural surpluses. A street market in the old quarters of Delhi. India sought safeguards, at the WTO, from US agricultural surpluses. Ahmad Masood/Reuters

Developing countries including India win concessions but critics say World Trade Organisation is no forum for helping the poor. The first global trade deal since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) nearly two decades ago was condemned by anti-poverty groups on Friday as a boost for big business at the expense of developing nations.

After 12 years of talks, an agreement drafted by WTO director general Roberto Azevedo was due to be signed by ministers from the body's 159 member countries on Friday night after last-minute concessions to India over food security.

An agreement with India, which has sought protection for its poorest farmers from US firms dumping surplus agricultural produce, was crucial to a comprehensive deal being struck at the meeting.

Barring any last-minute veto, the deal will be passed and aims to reduce red tape at customs, give improved terms of trade to the poorest countries, and offer developing countries leeway to bypass the normal rules on farm subsidies to feed the poor.

It would also revive confidence in the WTO's ability to negotiate global trade deals following a string of bilateral talks between the major trading blocs that have left the body at risk of collapse.

"We are very close," WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said at the meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. "As things stand now, the prospects are promising."

Tense negotiations in recent weeks ahead of the meeting followed 20 years of bitter disputes as developing countries have attempted to protect their fledgling agricultural and industrial sectors while allowing them access to markets in the rich west. The Doha round of talks, which began 12 years ago with high hopes of a deal, was considered to be dead as late as Thursday night by many delegates.

India, whose government faces the risk of losing elections next year, has said its tough stance drew support from developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America, though the meeting's host, Indonesia, pressed for it to soften its position.

"We are trying to get justice for the poor people," Indian trade minister Anand Sharma said as he entered the final day of the meeting.

India will implement a welfare programme next year to provide cheap food to 800 million people that was likely to contravene WTO rules curbing farm subsidies to 10% of production.

The programme, which relies on large-scale stockpiling and the offer to pay farmers a minimum price, is a central plank of the government's bid to win a third term.

Supporters of the WTO deal argue it will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the world economy. A report by the Peterson Institute in Washington argued it would add $960bn (£587bn) through extra trade and employment.

But the World Development Movement (WDM) warned it was "an agreement for transnational corporations not the world's poor".

Nick Dearden, director of the WDM, said: "On the positive side, developing countries have forced concessions on to the pro-corporate agenda of the US and EU. However, those concessions are only the minimum necessary to get through what remains a deal for corporations, not for the world's poor.

"Here in Bali, social movements, trade unions and campaign groups have supported the efforts of developing countries to get a deal which moves the agenda away from a pro-corporate charter and towards something that asserts the rights and needs of the majority of the world's population," he said.

"The aggressive stance of the US and EU means that we have moved only a little, and shows again that the WTO can never be a forum for creating a just and equal global economic system."

Dearden said a succession of planned bilateral deals on a range of goods and services threatened the WTO and represented "the biggest shift of power from people to corporations that we have seen in 10 years" and must be "halted in their tracks." The EU has recently begun talks with the Obama administration on a wide-ranging trade deal outside the confines of the WTO.

Critics of the deal also argue that the tortuous construction of clauses in the text make some parts of the agreement meaningless.

"The food security fix is something out of 1984, George Orwell would be proud," said Simon Evenett, professor of international trade at the Swiss University of St Gallen.

"The food security text is so contradictory that there must be an informal understanding among the big players as to what it really means."

Azevedo, a former Brazilian trade negotiator, told delegates at the start of the last day of talks that there was more work to be done, but sounded upbeat on prospects for success.

Rockwell said: "He told members they were now very close to something that has eluded us for many years and that the decisions over the next few hours would have great significance beyond this day."

Link to original article from The Guardian

Read 4816 times

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Latest News from the Lee Campaign

Latest News from the Grayson Campaign

Latest News from the Schapira Campaign

  • Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race
    Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race

    With early ballots in the mail, and only three weeks from the August 28th primary, State Senator David Schapira has emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer in a closely watched and increasingly nasty three-way congressional race in Arizona that many observers see as a litmus test for national Democratic chances to pick up critical seats in Congress.

    Written on Thursday, 09 August 2012 01:45 Read more...
  • Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    “The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends.

    Written on Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:14 Read more...
  • A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira
    A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira

    Endorsements are a funny thing. Most of them aren't worth anything at all. I have two friends running in the Democratic primary in Arizona's brand new 9th CD, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny. Kyrsten is a progressive and Andrei is somewhere in his own world ideologically. But the third guy... well, he's the one who's been endorsed by Raúl-- and by PDA. Whomever wins the August 28th primary is, likelier than not, headed to Congress. That third guy is David Schapira, the Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Saturday, 30 June 2012 13:38 Read more...
  • David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement
    David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement

    On the May Inside the Party call, David Schapira (AZ-9) received the PDA National endorsement. Currently David Schapira is the Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    The Arizona Communications Workers of America (CWA) State Council announced today their endorsement of Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. The state council is comprised of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association (AZCPOA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and multiple CWA local affiliates.

    Written on Thursday, 17 May 2012 19:55 Read more...
  • Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira
    Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira

    Congressman Raúl Grijalva, AZ-07, today announced his endorsement of Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in his campaign for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. “Voters are looking for candidates who stand up for what they believe in and can win, not by hiding their values, but by sharing them with voters. David is that candidate,” said Rep. Grijalva.

    Written on Monday, 30 April 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Union Rights Stripped

    Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pushes the country's most anti-union agenda yet. David Shapira, Democratic leader of the Arizona state senate, slams his Republican colleagues. Welcome back to "The Ed Show." Jan Brewer and the Arizona Republicans are on a tear. they are on the offensive. they are on a mission to completely destroy public employee unions. have you heard the story before?

    Written on Thursday, 02 February 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race
    State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race

    As predicted, former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's not the only Democrat with her eye on Arizona's new Congressional seat -- this morning, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced that he, too, will run in Arizona's newly formed 9th Congressional district.

    Written on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 00:00 Read more...

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Like Rep. Barbara Lee

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of