Planet Not For Sale

Comment on the draft paper 'Climate Smart Agriculture in Feed the Future Programs'

Language:  English File:  IATP Comment on Climate Smart Agriculture in Feed the Future Sept 16 2015.pdf Comment on the draft paper on ‘Climate Smart Agriculture in Feed the Future Programs’ developed with feedback from across USAID and other U.S. government agencies.

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TPP: What’s to Celebrate?

Eyes on Trade - 11 September, 2015 - 19:24

Like the 8-hour workday, child labor laws and a minimum wage, Labor Day is often taken for granted. Merely an extra day off.

But these immense contributions to our society’s wellbeing were hard-won by the labor movement.

What are unions – and all of us – doing as a nation to achieve greater progress and celebrate today’s workers, as well as the future’s? What are we doing the rest of the year to harm workers and roll back hard-fought gains?

One inspiring way in which the labor movement is partnering with environmental, consumer, faith and other civil society organizations to fight for a better quality of life for all Americans is to demand more fair trade and globalization policies. The fight against a more-of-the-same wage-lowering, job-killing trade agenda has generated more public interest and action than at any time in decades.

Why? Because the Obama administration sadly picked up where the Bush administration left off in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive 12-nation NAFTA-style trade agreement.

With our grills cooled from Labor Day and the fall legislative season starting, it worth considering what cause workers might actually have to celebrate the TPP:

Does an agreement that forces workers to compete with workers in Vietnam, where minimum wages average less than 60 cents an hour, child labor is rampant and independent unions are banned, sound like a reason to revel?

Does Labor Day mean anything if our government is pushing to enact trade pacts that actually provide incentives for U.S. firms to offshore jobs to low-wage countries?

What middle class person – small business owner or her employee –would eagerly praise the gutting of Buy American policies, policies that recycle our tax dollars to create good jobs in the U.S.?

Would you toast to the fact that, though American workers have doubled productivity since the 1970s, they are still being paid 1970s-level wages? Especially since this yawning gap would only be widened with another status quo trade deal, exasperating the worst U.S. income inequality in the last century.

Are we honoring America’s workers by enacting trade pacts that don’t include binding rules against currency cheating that displaces U.S. jobs? The TPP closely models previous pacts that have not only failed to meet expectations for job creation, but also exacerbated the trade deficit and cost 5 million American manufacturing jobs?

Who could lounge by the pool on any day knowing the TPP allows countries that tolerate the trafficking of workers and migrants – a form of modern-day slavery – to participate in the agreement? Or worse, that countries like Malaysia would be given a pass on horrific trafficking violations because they are already participating in TPP talks? 

Does a deal with 500-plus corporate advisors, and only a few public interest and labor groups, sound like it’s a promotion for workers? How about if it is being negotiated entirely behind closed doors?

Would America’s workers rest easy knowing this might be the last summer holiday before their families will be subjected to floods of unsafe food importsincreased medicine prices and worse environmental degradation?

How do we as a nation pause one day to celebrate workers, and then actively work on policies that harm their best interests the very next?

But there is one thing that is worth celebrating as we reflect on Labor Day: American unions are united with the unions in the other TPP countries to fight this corporate power grab branded as a trade deal. 

Workers here and around the world have had to fight constantly for decent wages, dignity, respect and safety. Even against overwhelming amounts of money, power and corporate propaganda our grandparents and parents won the rights many now take for granted.

We can show we care about labor the other 364 days a year by uniting to give workers something back in return for all they do: a dead TPP, the gift that keeps on giving.

This will be yet another important labor achievement worthy of celebration come Labor Day 2016.  

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Victory! Uruguay abandons TiSA negotiations

Eyes on Trade - 8 September, 2015 - 21:29
Photo courtesy of Montecruz Foto

In a major victory against the corporate-driven trade model, the President of Uruguay has announced that the country will be leaving the controversial Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations.

Uruguay’s initial decision to join the TiSA negotiations was met with strong and vocal opposition. Last month, more than 40,000 protestors shut down the city of Montevideo for a 24 hour general strike in which the TiSA was a major issue. The Frente Amplio (FA), Uruguay’s leading political party, passed a resolution calling for Uruguay to leave the negotiations, and yesterday, Uruguyan President Vázques officially announced Uruguay’s departure. Uruguay’s decision is in no small part thanks to the tireless efforts of many activists, labor unions, environmental organizations, and other civil society groups in the country. 

And the Uruguayans are right to be concerned about TiSA. Comprised of 51 nations, negotiations on the “trade” agreement have been on-going since 2013. Much like its TPP and TAFTA counterparts, TiSA negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors, with no access for civil society or stakeholders. However, a number of leaks of negotiating documents have confirmed the worst: TiSA is a threat to key public services and domestic regulations that we rely on for commonsense financial regulations, data privacy, net neutrality and a number of other issues. And that’s just what we can confirm based on leaks.

While Uruguay’s rejection of TiSA is certainly a moment to celebrate in the fight against the global expansion of the corporate trade model, much work remains. Given what we know about TiSA, its completion would be disastrous for workers, consumers, internet users, and those in need of public services. Therefore, the campaign continues, and in the words of Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of the Public Services International global union (one of the groups leading the charge against TiSA), Uruguay’s decision is “an example that we hope others will soon follow.”

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Transitions at Eyes on Trade

Eyes on Trade - 24 August, 2015 - 23:38

This blog post is a farewell of sorts.  After three years, today is my last day at Public Citizen.  In a couple weeks, I’ll be continuing to push for a more just trade model over at Sierra Club’s climate and trade program as senior policy advisor. Eyes on Trade, of course, will still be here in the good hands of my colleagues at Global Trade Watch. 

It has been a treat to have this space to amplify the call of many for a new trade model, document the damage wrought by our existing trade deals abroad and at home, fact-check dubious economic projections and predictable spin jobs for pending trade deals, spotlight the threats those deals pose to our health/environment/economy/democracy, and witness the growth of the largest, most diverse coalition ever to oppose an expansion of the trade status quo.  

I started working on trade when I realized that three lawyers in an investor-state tribunal could trump basic tenets of democracy and rule against health and environmental protections for which many of us have fought.  When I saw how a particular model of trade has contributed to the growing gulf between the rich and the rest of us.  When I realized that multinational corporations could obtain special protections that restrict consumers' access to life-saving medicines and still get away with calling it "free trade."  

Of course, one need not work on trade to know about trade.  It is little wonder that majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike oppose the status quo trade pact model.  More than two decades of NAFTA, the WTO and NAFTA expansion pacts have contributed to surging U.S. trade deficits, widespread job loss, a flood of agricultural imports, downward pressure on middle-class wages and unprecedented levels of income inequality.  Behind the aggregate data lie shuttered factories, lost livelihoods and struggling communities.

These outcomes directly contradict the rosy promises made by corporate interests to sell these controversial deals to a skeptical U.S. Congress and public.  They also contradict President Obama’s stated economic agenda to revive U.S. manufacturing, boost middle-class wages and tackle inequality – an agenda that the TPP would undermine.  The Obama administration’s push for yet another NAFTA expansion deal casts a blind eye to the damaging legacy of the current trade model.

With opinion polls showing that the U.S. public is painfully aware of this legacy, the administration’s TPP push faces stiff opposition in the halls of Congress and the court of public opinion.  Turning a blind eye to the lived realities of the status quo trade model is unlikely to prove a winning strategy. 

And with that, at the risk of making this my shortest blog post to date (a perhaps not difficult feat), I bid you adieu.  It has been an honor to work with Public Citizen, and to work alongside many of you in pushing for a fair trade policy.  I look forward to continuing to do so from my new post. 

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Farmers lack information on seed treatments found to harm pollinators, new paper

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Dale Wiehoff File:  2015_08_06_NeonicPaper_PR.pdf Minneapolis– The effectiveness and costs of pesticide seed coatings are not being made clear to farmers, according to a new paper by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Over the last decade, a small handful of seed companies often require or add neonicotinoid (neonic) seed coatings, particularly for genetically engineered crops. A growing body of science directly implicates neonic pesticides in the significant decline of bee and other pollinator populations. The most prevalent use of neonics is as seed coating material for agricultural commodity crops like corn and soybeans. The new IATP report, Unknown Benefits, Hidden Costs: Neonicotinoid Seed Coatings, Crop Yields and Pollinators, found...

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CAFTA’s Decade of Empty Promises Haunts the TPP

Eyes on Trade - 5 August, 2015 - 13:17

Ten years ago, after a flurry of backroom deal-making, Congress passed the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).  In the dead of night.  By a single vote.  

Exactly one decade later, today trade ministers are gathering in Hawaii to try to conclude deadline-missing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a sweeping deal that would expand the CAFTA model of trade across the Pacific.

In attempt to quell the controversy surrounding the TPP, the administration is recycling the same lofty promises that were used to push for passage of CAFTA: the deal would safeguard public health, spur economic prosperity at home and abroad, and protect workers, consumers, and the environment.

After 10 years of CAFTA, the emptiness of such promises is on full display. Today in Central America, life-saving medicines are more expensive due to monopoly protections that CAFTA gave to pharmaceutical corporations – protections that are slated for expansion in the TPP.  And the headlines from several CAFTA countries do not report economic prosperity, but economic instability, drug violence and forced migration.  Meanwhile, CAFTA’s labor provisions have failed to halt the assassination of dozens of Central American union workers who were trying to end unmitigated labor abuses like wage theft.  In contrast, the pact’s foreign investor privileges, which the TPP would expand, have succeeded in empowering multinational corporations to challenge domestic laws, including consumer and environmental protections.

Worse than repeating the mistakes of the past, the TPP would repeat the mistakes of CAFTA’s present.

Making life-saving medicines unaffordable

During the debate over CAFTA, health experts warned that by handing pharmaceutical firms greater monopoly protections, the deal would restrict Central Americans’ access to more affordable generic versions of life-saving drugs.

Unfortunately, they were right.  Take, for example, Kaletra, a drug used to fight HIV/AIDS.  Under CAFTA rules, Kaletra has enjoyed monopoly protections in Guatemala, making generic versions unavailable, for the entire first decade of CAFTA.  Without a generic alternative, Guatemala’s public health system pays about $130 per bottle of Kaletra.  In contrast, the generic version of Kaletra costs less than $20 per bottle, according to the Pan American Health Organization reference price.  For Guatemala’s taxpayers, paying more than six times the generic price for Kaletra under CAFTA means less money to build schools or bridges.  For Guatemala’s HIV/AIDS patients, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Like CAFTA, the TPP is slated to include extreme monopoly protections for pharmaceutical corporations.  Indeed, the deal even omits limited provisions to protect access to affordable medicines that were included the most recent U.S. free trade agreements.  That’s why Doctors without Borders has described the TPP as not only worse than CAFTA in restricting access to medicines, but “the most damaging trade agreement ever for global health.” 

Turning a blind eye to labor abuses

One decade ago, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative sold CAFTA as the “best ever trade agreement on labor,” boasting “world class” labor provisions.  Those provisions failed to prevent the murder of 68 Guatemalan unionists over the course of seven years without a single arrest.  In 2008, the AFL-CIO and Guatemalan unions filed an official complaint under CAFTA’s labor provisions, calling for an end to the rampant anti-union violence, wage theft, and other abuses.  It was not until six years and dozens of unionist murders later that the U.S. government moved to arbitration on the case.  Today Guatemala’s union workers still endure frequent attacks with near-total impunity.

CAFTA’s labor provisions have proven similarly ineffective in the Dominican Republic, where sugar cane workers endure 12-hour workdays in hazardous conditions without receiving legally-required overtime pay.  A Spanish priest who filed an official CAFTA complaint in attempt to rectify the abuses was informed by U.S. Department of Labor officials, “Nothing is going to happen on account of not complying.”  Indeed, nothing has happened.  Despite CAFTA’s “world class” labor provisions, the Dominican Republic’s underpaid cane workers continue laboring in squalid conditions.

Why has CAFTA, like U.S. trade agreements before and since, failed to curb widespread labor abuses?   Kim Elliot, a member of the Department of Labor’s National Advisory Committee on Labor Provisions of U.S. Free Trade Agreements, recently offered this blunt explanation: the labor provisions of U.S. trade deals “are in there because they’re necessary to get deals through Congress.”  She added, “It’s really all about politics and not about how to raise labor standards in these countries.”

Now, in attempt to get the TPP through Congress, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is parroting the same promise it made for CAFTA, claiming that the deal would include “the highest-ever labor commitments.”  While the TPP’s labor provisions have been described as more “enforceable” than those in CAFTA, this is nothing new.  The last four U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) already included such “enforceable” terms, but still failed to end on-the-ground offenses, according to a 2014 U.S. government report.  Colombia’s unionists have faced dozens of assassinations and hundreds of death threats despite the Colombia FTA’s inclusion of TPP-like labor provisions.  And last year Peru explicitly rolled back occupational health and safety protections for workers despite the Peru FTA’s “enforceable” labor provisions.  Neither country has faced penalties under the FTAs.  It’s unclear why the TPP’s replication of such unsuccessful labor provisions should be expected to curb the systematic labor abuses in TPP countries like Vietnam, which bans independent unions, uses forced labor, and, by the Vietnamese government’s own estimate, has more than 1.75 million child laborers.

Empowering corporate attacks on consumer and environmental protections

In contrast to CAFTA’s unenforceable “protections” for workers, the deal granted highly enforceable privileges to foreign corporations.  This includes empowering them to bypass domestic courts and challenge domestic consumer and environmental protections before extrajudicial tribunals via “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS).

Corporations have not held back in using this controversial parallel legal system to challenge pro-consumer policies, including government efforts to keep electricity affordable.  In 2010 a U.S. energy company with an indirect, minority stake in Guatemala’s electric utility used ISDS to challenge Guatemala’s decision to lower electricity rates for consumers.  The next day, the company sold off its minority share.  A three-person ISDS tribunal generously decided to treat the firm as a protected “investor” in Guatemala and ordered the government to pay the corporation more than $32 million.  In another energy-related CAFTA case, a U.S. financial firm challenged the Dominican Republic’s decision not to raise electricity rates amid a nationwide energy crisis.  The government decided to pay the firm to drop the case in a $26.5 million settlement, reasoning that it was cheaper than continuing to pay legal fees.

CAFTA countries also face an increasing array of ISDS cases against environmental protections.  A U.S. mining company, for example, has launched a claim against the Dominican Republic for delaying and then denying environmental approval for an aggregate materials mine that the government deemed a threat to nearby water sources.  Other U.S. investors in the Dominican Republic have threatened to launch a CAFTA claim against the government for denying environmental approval for their plans to expand a gated resort.

The TPP would dramatically expand the controversial ISDS system, newly empowering more than 28,000 additional foreign-owned firms to ask private tribunals to order taxpayer compensation for commonsense environmental and consumer protections.

Fueling economic instability

Ten years ago, CAFTA proponents promised the deal would bring economic prosperity to Central America, making it “the best immigration, anti-gang, and anti-drug policy at our disposal.”  Today, CAFTA countries Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are plagued by drug-related gang violence and forced migration.  While the causes are many, “economic stagnation” has fed the crisis, according to the U.S. State Department.  CAFTA clearly failed to deliver on its promise of economic growth for the region.

Worse still, CAFTA has contributed to the region’s economic instability.  Before the razor-thin passage of CAFTA, development organizations warned that the deal could lead to the displacement of the family farmers that constitute a significant portion of Central America’s workforce, by forcing them to directly compete with highly-subsidized U.S. agribusiness.  Indeed, agricultural imports from the United States in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have doubled since the deal went into effect, while the countries’ agricultural trade balance with the United States has dropped, spelling farmer displacement. 

And despite promises that CAFTA would make up for rural job loss by creating new jobs in apparel factories, apparel exports to the United States from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have actually fallen $1.6 billion, or 21 percent, since the year before CAFTA took effect.  Not only has the promise of new factories disappeared – so have existing factories.  

If the TPP were to take effect, the apparel jobs of Central America would be expected to decline even quicker, contributing to further economic instability.  That’s because the TPP includes Vietnam, a major apparel exporter where independent unions are banned and where the minimum wage averages less than 60 cents an hour – a fraction of the minimum wages in Central America (or even in China).  Central America is already losing the race to the bottom.  It will only fall further behind if the TPP makes Vietnam the newest low-wage competitor. 

The promise-defying track record of CAFTA need not be repeated.  When the TPP negotiators meeting today in a resort hotel in Hawaii finish this round of negotiations, we are likely to hear a familiar litany of promises about how the TPP would benefit consumers, workers, and the environment.  With those promises punctured by a decade of CAFTA’s stark realities, we have a unique opportunity to say “enough is enough.” 

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Unknown Benefits, Hidden Costs

Subtitle:  Neonicotinoid Seed Coatings, Crop Yields and Pollinators Language:  English IATP author(s):  Ben Lilliston Author(s) (external):  Jim Kleinschmit File:  2015_08_06_Neonics_BL_JK.pdf There is a growing body of science directly implicating neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides in the significant decline of bees and other pollinators.1 Neonicotinoids are applied in multiple ways in many parts of agriculture and horticulture, but are most prevalent as a seed coating material for agricultural commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Based on convincing and mounting evidence and data, beekeepers, scientists and other individuals concerned about pollinators...

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Yet Another ‘Final’ TPP Ministerial and Again No Deal; Not Surprising Given Growing Controversy Over TPP Threats Here and in Other Nations

Eyes on Trade - 31 July, 2015 - 23:24

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Today’s fourth “final” TPP ministerial without a deal means the clock has run on possible U.S. congressional votes in 2015. No deal means the TPP is thrown into the political maelstrom of the U.S. presidential cycle and with opposition building in many countries there are reduced chances that a deal will ever be reached on a pact that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman declared to be in its “end game” in 2013 but that has become ever more controversial since.

It’s good news for people and the planet that no deal was done at this final do-or-die meeting given the TPP’s threats to jobs, wages, safe food, affordable medicines and more. Only the beleaguered negotiators and most of the 600 official U.S. trade advisors representing corporate interests wanted this deal, which recent polling shows is unpopular in most of the countries involved.

This ministerial was viewed as a do-or-die moment to inject momentum into the TPP process, so this Maui meltdown in part reflects how controversial the TPP is in many of the involved nations and how little latitude governments feel to make concessions to get a deal.

The intense U.S. national political battle over trade authority was just a preview of the massive opposition the TPP would face once members of Congress and the public see the specific TPP terms that threaten their interests. Given the damaging impacts that some TPP proposals could have for many people, it’s not surprising that the same set of issues including investor-state dispute resolution and medicine patents as well as market access issues like sugar, dairy, and rules-of-origin on manufactured goods like autos remain deadlocked given they will determine whether a final pact is politically viable in various TPP countries.

Many of the 28 House Democrats who supported Fast Track authority for Obama explicitly said that their support for the TPP relied on certain goals being met, including strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards, and no rolling back of past patent rule reforms relating to access to medicines – terms meeting the “May 2007” standard that elements of the TPP do not meet. 

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Comment on the presidential Office of Science and Technology Policy’s “Nanotechnology Inspired Grand Challenges for the Next Decade”

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Dr. Steve Suppan File:  OSTP Nanotechnology Grand Challenges.pdf Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Request for Information: Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges for the Next Decade[i] Submitted electronically: July 16, 2015 The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization, is pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the above captioned Request for Information. If OSTP does not receive an adequate number of responses to its Request for Information (Request), we hope that it will consider extending the deadline for comment. IATP has submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency concerning nanomaterials and nanotechnology...

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Obama Administration’s Cynical Bid to Salvage the TPP by Turning a Blind Eye to Malaysia’s Trafficked Persons’ Mass Graves Will Only Fuel Criticism of the Pact

Eyes on Trade - 27 July, 2015 - 17:22

In a cynical bid to salvage the already-controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Obama administration today removed Malaysia from a list of the world’s most flagrant violators of basic human trafficking norms – two months after the discovery of mass graves for human trafficking victims in Malaysia, Public Citizen said.

In its annual Trafficking in Persons Report released today, the U.S. Department of State ignored TPP member Malaysia’s documented deterioration of human trafficking enforcement and upgraded the country’s human trafficking compliance status. Members of Congress,religious groups and leading U.S. and Malaysian human rights organizations have rightly lambasted the decision as an indefensible maneuver to avoid a U.S. law that prohibits Fast Tracking the TPP as long as a country  on the blacklist, like Malaysia, is a party to the pact.

“The administration knows that the TPP will have trouble in Congress, but turning a blind eye to Malaysia’s grave human rights violations in order to include Malaysia in the pact because it’s one of the few TPP countries we don’t already have a trade deal with and keeping the TPP on Fast Track so Congress’ oversight is limited is shameful,” said Alisa Simmons, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

The maneuver also will backfire, instead adding to the controversy surrounding the TPP.

“If the Obama administration is willing to ignore people-smuggling camps in Malaysia, why should we believe it would not also ignore TPP member Brunei’s criminalization of homosexuality, TPP member Vietnam’s widespread child labor or TPP member Peru’s rollback of environmental protections?” Simmons said.

Today’s manipulation of Malaysia’s human trafficking record will only bolster criticism from human rightsreligiousLGBTwomen’slaborand environmental organizations that the TPP’s touted human rights, labor and environmental provisions are mere fig leaves that would fail to actually curb widespread abuses among TPP members.

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Will Obama Turn a Blind Eye to Malaysia’s Mass Graves in a Cynical Bid to Salvage the Controversial TPP?

Eyes on Trade - 9 July, 2015 - 17:33

Just after the discovery of mass graves for human trafficking victims in Malaysia, the Obama administration is reportedly planning to remove Malaysia from its list of the world’s worst human trafficking offenders.

Why would the Obama administration do such a thing?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Malaysia is a negotiating member of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and that under U.S. law the TPP cannot be Fast Tracked through Congress if one of the countries involved (i.e. Malaysia) is on the administration’s human trafficking blacklist.

If the Obama administration wants to Fast Track the TPP through Congress with Malaysia included (and without the democratic annoyances of checks, balances, and amendments), it has two options:

  1. Pressure Malaysia to end its deplorable human trafficking abuses
  2. Pretend those abuses do not exist 

In a cynical bid to salvage the unpopular TPP, the Obama administration has reportedly chosen the latter option.  Inside sources report that the administration plans to remove Malaysia from its list of the worst human trafficking offenders, despite the country’s documented deterioration of human trafficking enforcement, in an annual State Department report expected to be released next week. 

Turning a blind eye to Malaysia’s grave human rights violations in effort to rescue the TPP, which would grant Malaysia privileged access to the U.S. market, would be simply shameful.

It would also backfire, instead adding to the controversy surrounding the TPP. If the Obama administration is willing to ignore cages for humans in Malaysia’s people-smuggling camps, why should we believe it would not also ignore TPP member Brunei’s criminalization of homosexuality, TPP member Vietnam’s widespread child labor, or TPP member Peru’s rollback of environmental protections?

If the Obama administration removes Malaysia from the human trafficking blacklist, it will only bolster criticism from human rights, religious, LGBT, women’s, labor and environmental organizations that the TPP’s touted human rights, labor and environmental provisions are mere fig leaves that would fail to actually curb systematic abuses among TPP members.

In its tunnel-vision push for the TPP, the Obama administration has already dismissed widespread concerns about job offshoring, wage stagnation, unsafe food, environmental degradation, inaccessible medicines, Internet restrictions, and financial instability.  Will it now add human trafficking to the list?   We will soon find out. 

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Leaked Text Shows Trade Agreement Threat to Deregulate Financial Services

Eyes on Trade - 2 July, 2015 - 13:52

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: Today, draft texts of the Trade in Services Agreement were made public by WikiLeaks. Click here to see our analysis. 

It would be helpful if policymakers acted with some recognition that the 2008-2009 financial crisis actually occurred. It shouldn’t be hard. In the United States alone, nearly $20 trillion in wealth was lost, between lost output and lost home equity; unemployment peaked at 10 percent; millions of families lost their homes. The situation was worse in much of the world, with severe problems continuing in many countries, notably in Europe.

Learning from the crisis means not repeating the deregulatory and non-enforcement mistakes that led up to it. Yet a secret international trade agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), threatens to adopt and impose a global financial deregulatory standard.

Our analysis of a leaked version of the draft agreement, along with a draft annex on financial services, identifies threats to rules and policies ranging from limits on overall bank size to consumer protections, from prophylactic protections against new speculative financial instruments to limits on transfers of personal financial data.

It is unimaginable that such an agreement is under negotiation while the global economy is still recovering from the most severe crisis since the Great Depression, and while Greece and other countries are still reeling from developments related to the crisis.

Yet, thanks to the publication of the TISA texts by WikiLeaks, we know that such negotiations are in fact underway.

Post-crisis, the United States and countries around the world have tightened their domestic financial regulations, imposing somewhat tougher restraints on Wall Street and financial centers around the world. TISA is an effort by Wall Street and its global counterparts to undo those positive steps in a forum absolutely closed to the public.

To analyze the TISA text is to see that negotiators are ignoring the lessons from the financial crisis, and to see how vital it is to shine a light on the secret TISA negotiations. These leaks show that it is imperative for TISA negotiators to suspend their efforts, publish all texts under negotiations and not resume until there is a proper public debate about their radical deregulatory maneuvers.

Read our analysis of the leaked texts here:

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State Department Lambasts Human Rights Violations in TPP Nations Vietnam and Brunei, Further Complicating Push for Controversial Pact

Eyes on Trade - 25 June, 2015 - 19:38

New Report Cites Political Prisoners, Criminalization of Homosexuality, Mistreatment of Women, Child Labor Among Abuses of TPP Negotiating Parties

The U.S. Department of State’s revelations about grave human rights abuses in Vietnam and Brunei add new hurdles for the Obama administration’s push for the already controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Public Citizen said today. The revelations came in the department’s annual human rights report, released today.

The report details jailing of political dissidents and anti-union repression in Vietnam, as well as Brunei’s enactment of a sharia-based penal code that punishes homosexuals and single mothers, who could be stoned to death once the code is fully implemented later this year. Vietnam and Brunei are two of the 12 nations negotiating the TPP.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have criticized the TPP’s inclusion of countries notorious for human rights violations. Recent congressional letters have spotlighted Vietnam and Brunei as inappropriate trade pact partners given the severe human rights issues in those nations spotlighted by past State Department reports.

“Having the State Department report grave human rights conditions in several TPP countries even when they are under the spotlight of ongoing negotiations fuels members of Congress’ ire about this already unpopular pact,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

In today’s report, the U.S. Department of State spotlights Brunei’s enactment in May 2014 of a new penal code that criminalizes homosexual and extramarital relations. When Brunei’s code is fully implemented, these and other “crimes” are slated to be punishable by flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning.

With respect to Vietnam, the report spotlights “arbitrary or unlawful killings,” “continued [efforts] to suppress political speech through arbitrary arrest, short-term detentions without charge, and politically motivated convictions,” and restrictions on press freedom due to government censorship and “pervasive self-censorship due to the threat of dismissal and possible arrest.” It also focuses on Vietnam’s continuing repression of basic labor rights, including a ban on independent unions, use of forced labor and widespread child labor. The report notes that the Vietnamese government itself has estimated that there are 1.75 million child laborers in Vietnam.

Despite Congress’ passage of Fast Track this week, the push to gain congressional approval for the TPP becomes more politically fraught as 2016 draws nearer, with presidential contenders from both parties recently adding their voices to the widespread criticism of the pact. The human rights violations unveiled in today’s U.S. Department of State report will only fuel broader opposition to the pact among members of Congress, the public and presidential candidates. 

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Fast Track sets stage for showdown on free trade

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Karen Hansen-Kuhn File:  2015_06_24_FastTrackPassesSenate_PR.pdf Washington D.C.–Following an intense lobbying campaign, the Senate today caved in to demands from the Obama administration and GOP leadership and gave Trade Promotion Authority six years of life support. Better known as Fast Track, this legislation means that Congress has forfeited its right to amend any international trade agreement for the next six years; all it can do is vote the proposed agreement up or down. “While Fast Track’s fate has been decided, the fate of the trade bills themselves has not. Fast Track will grease the skids for secretly negotiated trade agreements, but what it will not do is shut up millions of Americans who will fight for a thumbs down...

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Scientists’ Open Letter to FAO Director General Graziano da Silva, in Support of the February 2015 Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology

Language:  English Author(s) (external):  IATP, et al. File:  Scientists letter-nyeleni.pdf 24 June 2015 Dear Director General da Silva, As scientists and scholars working in sustainable agriculture and food systems, we are writing to support and bring to your attention the recent Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology1, dated 27 February 2015. The Declaration affirms that agroecology can produce food in ecologically sustainable and socially just ways, and can “generate local knowledge, promote social justice, nurture identity and culture, and strengthen the economic viability of rural areas.” The Nyéléni Agroecology Declaration resulted from a historic meeting in Nyéléni, Mali of “delegates representing diverse organizations and international movements...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Despite Fast Track Vote, Americans Know Trade Deals Fail Miserably, Will Oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership

Eyes on Trade - 23 June, 2015 - 16:00

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Following elaborate legislative contortions and gimmicks designed to hand multinational corporations their top priority, today the U.S. Senate paved the way for Fast Track legislation that aims to advance the corporate wish list known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well other trade deals.

Those contortions were necessary because the American people overwhelmingly oppose these deals, notwithstanding an endless barrage of propaganda.

They oppose these deals because they know from personal experience that the NAFTA model fails miserably.

They know that these deals will mean more export of jobs, more downward pressure on wages. They know that these deals will undermine our ability to maintain and adopt strong environmental and consumer protections. They know that these deals are designed to help giant corporations, and not communities.

Today’s action means that Congress will tie its hands to prevent it from exerting positive influence over negotiations of the TPP. It means that the final TPP agreement will very likely include provisions empowering foreign corporations to sue our own government for policies that they claim impinge on their expected future profits. It means that the final TPP will very likely include provisions that will extend Big Pharma monopolies, raising prices for consumers and health systems – and, even in the United States, and especially in the poorer TPP countries, denying people access to needed medical treatment. It means that the final TPP will very likely include provisions undermining our food safety.

What it doesn’t mean is that Congress must pass such a TPP. When the inexcusable and anti-democratic veil of secrecy surrounding the TPP is finally lifted, and the American people see what is actually in the agreement, they are going to force their representatives in Washington to vote that deal down. Members who fail to do so can expect their constituents to hold them accountable. 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Hillary Clinton Says No to Fast Track while Bill Clinton Tries to Defend Fast Tracked Deals

Eyes on Trade - 19 June, 2015 - 17:42

As Fast Track for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) moves to the Senate, where its path is fraught at best, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has just stated that if she were in the Senate today, she'd probably vote "no" on Fast Track. She adds that she "certainly would not vote for it" if she was not "absolutely confident" that a separate bill to assist workers who lose their jobs to trade (Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA) would be enacted.  

Today's Senators should have no such confidence.  Many of them say "no" outright to the notion that it's a fair deal to Fast Track trade pacts that would offshore the jobs of middle-class workers in exchange for a small amount of assistance for some of those laid off workers.  (Know what's better than handing someone some cash after you eliminate their job?  Letting them keep their job.)  

But even those Senators who might be willing to vote yes on Fast Track in exchange for TAA would have to take a huge gamble that TAA would actually become a reality.  If they would vote for Fast Track before TAA passes both houses of Congress, Republicans - many of whom deeply oppose TAA - would have little incentive to help Democrats pass TAA.  Greg Sargent of The Washington Post explains, "But there’s no way to be certain Republicans will deliver on TAA, because many of them don’t really care about worker assistance and they’d already have achieved the Fast Track they want." 

The lack of "absolute confidence" on TAA has already pushed some fence-riding Senate Democrats to make the same calculation as Hillary Clinton and declare that they do not intend to vote for Fast Track

Just the day before the presidential candidate stated her opposition to Fast Track, her husband attempted to defend the legacy of past Fast Tracked trade deals that he helped usher into existence.  In an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, Bill Clinton got his facts wrong in his defense of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and NAFTA expansion pacts - the unpopular status quo trade model that Fast Track would expand.  (At the same time, Clinton offered a few critiques of provisions in pending trade agreements that ironically came from the NAFTA-style pacts he was defending - see below.) 

Some correcting of the former president's misstatements is in order: 

Clinton implied that our huge NAFTA trade deficit is due primarily to oil: “They [Mexico] were one of our biggest oil suppliers before we were self-sufficient in oil. So we did have a trade deficit there.

The surge in the U.S. trade deficit with NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada was not due to oil, according to U.S. government trade data. Even after removing oil, the U.S. non-oil goods trade deficit with Mexico and Canada went from an average of $2.3 billion in the five years before NAFTA to an average of $43.5 billion in the five years after NAFTA (adjusted for inflation). In 2014, the U.S. non-oil goods trade deficit with NAFTA partners topped $95.7 billion, more than 42 times the pre-NAFTA level.

Clinton stated: "And the analysis of all of our trade agreements with countries with lower per capita incomes than we have shows that on balance the countries that we have trade agreements with, we tend to have balanced trade."

Not according to the government data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. The United States actually had a $177.5 billion combined goods trade deficit with its 20 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners in 2014. That FTA trade deficit has increased by about $144 billion, or 427 percent, since the FTAs were implemented. Using Clinton’s comparison to only those FTA partners “with lower per capita incomes than we have” would eliminate Australia and Singapore, making the FTA trade deficit even higher, at $201.3 billion.

Clinton also claimed: "What happened is that in general our trade deficits have been bigger with countries we don’t have trade agreements with.”

It’s unclear what Clinton means by this. If he means the aggregate U.S. trade deficit with our 20 FTA partners is smaller than our total trade deficit with all other countries in the world combined, then yes, that is obviously true, as our 20 FTA partners constitute just a fraction of the global economy. If he means that the United States has a larger trade deficit with individual non-FTA countries than with individual FTA countries, that is only true for China. After China, our two largest goods trade deficits are with NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada.

Indeed, Clinton offered China - the outlier - as proof of his argument, saying, "we have no trade agreement" with China but "we have a humongous deficit" with China. Stewart interjected, "but some would say the larger problem was not NAFTA, but China joining the WTO.” Clinton responded, "Well the larger problem, whether they joined it or not, we had a huge trade deficit before they joined the WTO. And at least when they got into the WTO, they had to agree to rules and if we vigorously enforced the trade deals, we had a forum to resolve it…"

Stewart was right to point out to Clinton that we actually do have a different kind of trade agreement with China, thanks to China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, which precipitated a massive increase in the U.S. trade deficit with China.  Since China's WTO entry, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China has increased $237 billion or 211 percent. While the U.S. trade deficit with China grew 90 percent in the five years before China’s WTO entry, it expanded 146 percent in the five years thereafter, notwithstanding Clinton’s claim that the WTO offered a “forum” to force China to comply with certain rules. 

In addition, the former president repeated an Obama administration talking point by implying that the TPP would "not just let China write all the rules for Asia."  Never mind that the TPP rules were written to advance narrow special interests that would undermine the broader U.S. national interest.  Or that China appears to actually like the TPP's rules, as China has expressed interest in joining the pact.  Or that the track record of past U.S. FTAs defies the notion that the establishment of a trade deal would affect China's rising influence. 

Stewart also slipped up at one point in the interview in stating that "NAFTA has been very beneficial, I think, for Mexico." Actually, many economists agree that NAFTA has been a disappointment for Mexico. Mexico’s average annual growth per capita in NAFTA’s first two decades ranked 18th out of the 20 countries of Central and South America, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. And NAFTA's agricultural provisions contributed to the loss of livelihood of an estimated 2.5 million Mexican farmers and agricultural workers, which fueled a doubling of immigration from Mexico to the United States in NAFTA's first seven years. 

Despite Bill Clinton's errant defenses of the NAFTA model he helped birth, he also offered a few surprising critiques of provisions that were part and parcel of that model.  For example, he said "we shouldn't have a trade enforcement mechanism where a group we don't know picks the lawyers."  Is this a reference to the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, included in NAFTA?  The TPP would dramatically expand this system by newly empowering thousands of foreign corporations to bypass domestic courts, go before tribunals of private lawyers that sit outside of any domestic legal system and challenge the laws we rely on for a clean environment, essential services, and healthy communities.  It's a little late for Bill Clinton, whose signature trade pact was the first major ISDS-enforced U.S. deal, to criticize ISDS.  But if he is indeed opposed to its expansion via the TPP, let's hear it.  

Clinton also acknowledged, implicitly, that status quo trade deals have led to the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, stating, "But it’s also true that there have been a lot of independent studies which show that we have a net loss of manufacturing jobs at the low end."  Indeed, nearly 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs – one out of every four – have been lost on net since NAFTA took effect, and more than 57,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities have closed. Again, Clinton is about two decades late in raising this concern. Even so, it's timely, as the TPP would extend NAFTA’s special protections for firms that offshore U.S. jobs, while forcing U.S. workers to directly compete with workers in Vietnam making less than 60 cents an hour.

Clinton then emphasized the recent stagnation of middle class wages, but did not connect this to the status quo trade model that, according to an academic consensus, has contributed to downward pressure on median wages.  A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study confirmed this linkage, concluding that "offshoring to low wage countries and imports [are] both associated with wage declines for US workers."  

Clinton even implied that new trade deals should not be enacted until middle wage stagnation has been fixed, stating, "so we've got to first make sure that our people are going to be alright and that we have a sensible economic policy at home."  Ironically, the enactment of such deals contributed to the downward pressure on wages in the first place.  If the wage gap is actually to be bridged, it will require not only new domestic efforts, but a new trade model.  

Bill Clinton is an unlikely advocate for that model.  Hillary Clinton, if she continues to speak against Fast Track, has a chance to be a better one. 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

House Punts Fast Track Problem Back to Senate; Path to Approval Unclear

Eyes on Trade - 18 June, 2015 - 16:45

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Today, the House employed yet another procedural gimmick to punt the Fast Track problem back to the Senate, where its fate remains at best unclear as Americans’ concerns that more of the same trade policy would kill more jobs and push down our wages remain unaddressed.   

Because Republican House members would not support the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) part of the Senate-passed Fast Track package last week, the GOP leadership today had to resort to a Fast Track-only vote, but what exactly that achieves is unclear. Senate Democrats, including those needed to obtain cloture for a stand-alone Fast Track bill, are demanding that the TAA be reinserted into the Fast Track bill or be passed by both chambers before agreeing to support Fast Track.  In addition, key Democratic senators are insisting on the fulfilment by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of a promised vote to reauthorize the Export-Import bank – which was the condition for the deciding bloc of Senate Democrats to support cloture on Fast Track in the first instance in May. Meanwhile, House GOP lawmakers remain strongly opposed to TAA and Ex-Im reauthorization. As House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stated today, there is no clear path for enactment of TAA. Yet yesterday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that President Obama requires both Fast Track and TAA to come to his desk.

That two years of effort by a vast corporate coalition, the White House and GOP leaders – and weeks of procedural gimmicks and deals swapped for yes votes – has resulted in this continuing standoff and no Fast Track enacted spotlights the dim prospects not only for adoption of Fast Track but also for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

This weekend, the millions of Americans across the political spectrum actively campaigning against Fast Track will intensify their efforts to ensure the Senate permanently retires the Nixon-era scheme. America needs a new process for negotiating and approving trade agreements if we are to achieve deals that create American jobs and raise our wages.

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Representative Who “Deeply Regrets” NAFTA Vote Warns Congress Not to Flip-Flop on Fast Track

Eyes on Trade - 16 June, 2015 - 21:18

Today the House of Representatives narrowly passed a procedural rule, inserted into an unrelated legislative package last night, that gives defenders of the unpopular status quo trade model six weeks to try to revive the Fast Track package that was put on life support last Friday. They will not succeed so long as they continue to face the wall of dogged, diverse grassroots pressure that delivered Friday’s landmark fair trade victory.  

Even so, the Obama administration and congressional proponents of more-of-the-same trade deals will try to badger the many members of Congress who voted down the Fast Track package into switching their votes. They will likely reiterate the tired litany of false promises that members of Congress and the U.S. public have heard time and again when being sold unpopular trade pacts.

In a poignant speech before today’s vote, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) warned against trusting such promises. In 1993, Rep. Hastings cast a controversial vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – the deal that spawned the status quo trade model that Fast Track would expand.  Today, Hastings stated:

In the 20 plus years that I’ve served in this body, I can think of only three votes which I deeply regret making and one of those was in support of NAFTA. In the years since, I’ve seen, after NAFTA, a decrease in American jobs, a rollback of critical environmental protections, here and in Mexico where I was promised that the environmental circumstances in the maquiladoras would be cleared up – and they were not – and a stagnation of wages that has prevented the financial upward mobility of working class and middle class Americans and has ground poor Americans into poverty beyond belief.

Rep. Hastings made clear that he has learned from NAFTA’s broken promises and urged his colleagues to stand firm by continuing to oppose Fast Track’s expansion of the trade status quo:

If we’re going to create trade policy that is worthy of future generations, then we must ensure that policy strengthens—not weakens—labor rights. It must strengthen—not weaken—environmental protections. It must ensure other countries responsibility to adhere to basic human rights. It must expand and strengthen our middle class, not squeeze hardworking Americans in favor of corporate interests. The legislation included in this rule today is part of a trade package that does nothing to bolster these important priorities.  

If past is precedent, the White House and congressional leadership will also try to make special deals with members of Congress who voted against the Fast Track package on Friday, offering promises of political cover or special goodies – from bridges to import safeguards – if they would be willing to face the wrath of their constituents and flip-flop on Fast Track.  But a review of the last two decades of trade-vote dealmaking reveals that such promises made to extract unpopular trade votes have also been consistently broken, leaving members of Congress exposed to voters’ anger over their decision to defy the opinion and interests of the majority.

Here again, Rep. Hastings’ experience offers a cautionary tale.  In deciding how to vote on NAFTA, Florida representatives like Hastings were concerned that the deal could lead to an influx of underpriced tomatoes from Mexico, displacing Florida’s tomato farmers and the state’s many tomato-related jobs. To extract their votes, the Clinton administration promised Florida representatives that the U.S. government would take measures to safeguard Florida tomato growers if NAFTA led to a surge in tomato imports.

The Clinton administration never fulfilled this promise. Before NAFTA, Florida had a $700 million tomato industry with 250 growers.  Within two years of NAFTA, tomato imports from Mexico soared, Florida’s tomato revenues dropped to $400 million and the state’s tomato industry shrank to just 100 growers.  No meaningful import safeguards were enacted by the Clinton administration, the George W. Bush administration or the Obama administration. Today, imports of tomatoes from Mexico are up 247 percent since NAFTA’s implementation.  Florida’s tomato growers have now filed a lawsuit to obtain the safeguards that they, and Florida’s representatives, were promised 22 years ago.

Rep. Hastings learned the hard way that promises used to extract “yes” votes on unpopular trade deals rarely materialize. His colleagues have the opportunity to learn the easy way – by heeding Rep. Hastings’ warning and maintaining opposition to Fast Track. 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale


Our World Is Not For Sale - 29 April, 2009 - 20:09
Currently accepting signatories:  Accept signatories AttachmentSize OWINFS_NAMA_final_es.zip7.76 KB

Red Nuestro Mundo No Está en Venta (OWINFS)

¡No permitamos que la OMC destruya las industrias de los países en desarrollo y subaste nuestros recursos naturales!

Mucha gente sabe que la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC)
abre los mercados de los servicios y la agricultura con efectos
negativos para los agricultores, los servicios públicos y el
medioambiente en todo el mundo. Pero la OMC ahora quiere poner a la
venta el resto del planeta, a través de un nuevo acuerdo sobre Acceso a
los Mercados para los Productos No Agrícolas (conocido como NAMA por su
sigla en inglés) que se está negociando actualmente como parte de la
‘Ronda Doha’ de negociaciones comerciales, y mediante el cual los
gobiernos pretenden liberalizar todos los sectores restantes de la vida económica de nuestras sociedades.

El acuerdo NAMA contiene propuestas que restringirían severamente
la capacidad de los gobiernos para ejecutar políticas nacionales de
interés público y por el bien común, incluso políticas diseñadas para
apoyar a los productores de los países del Sur generalmente más débiles
y de menor porte. También podría obligar a los países que aplican los
aranceles más altos (es decir, la mayoría de los países en desarrollo)
a realizar los recortes más profundos y los mayores compromisos, aun
cuando eso podría debilitar a industrias y sectores económicos clave en
esos países. Si a esto se le suma el hecho que la OMC efectivamente
‘encierra’ sin salida a los países mediante estos acuerdos de libre
comercio, queda muy claro que el NAMA representa una amenaza muy grande
para los países que ya están bregando por desarrollar sus economías y
sortear la carga injusta e insostenible de la deuda externa.

Nosotros, las organizaciones abajo firmantes, estamos unidos en
oposición a este nuevo intento de abrir mercados para beneficio de las
empresas transnacionales y a costa de la pequeña y mediana industria y
productores, las economías y culturas locales y el medioambiente. Hay
que frenar las propuestas de NAMA y llevar a cabo estudios exhaustivos
sobre los potenciales efectos sociales, ambientales, sobre el empleo y
en materia de desarrollo y equidad de género.

Por eso exhortamos a los gobiernos a:

  • Detener las negociaciones sobre el NAMA y acordar al
    realización de una revisión exhaustiva e independiente acerca de los
    efectos potenciales del NAMA para el desarrollo económico, la
    diversificación productiva industrial de los países en desarrollo, el
    medioambiente y el bienestar social (incluidos empleo, salud y equidad
    de género);
  • Reconocer y garantizar el espacio político
    necesario y las flexibilidades con que deben contar los gobiernos,
    preservando su derecho a emplear herramientas políticas, incluso
    medidas comerciales cuyo fin sea generar economías justas y
    sustentables, proteger y promover el empleo, el bienestar social, la
    salud y el medioambiente al tiempo que se garantiza la participación de
    la ciudadanía;
  • Fomentar la conservación y el manejo
    sustentable de los recursos naturales incluso mediante la decisión de
    frenar la liberalización del comercio de bienes tales como los bosques,
    los peces, el petróleo, el gas, los metales y los minerales.  

Efectos del NAMA en la industria y el desempleo de los países en desarrollo

  • El recorte general y acelerado de los aranceles de
    importación y otras medidas propuestas en el marco del acuerdo sobre el
    NAMA amenazan con impedir la industrialización de los países en
    desarrollo, a los cuales no se les permitiría proteger a sus
    vulnerables industrias locales contra la competencia de  grandes
    empresas extranjeras transnacionales que pueden producir masivamente
    grandes cantidades de productos baratos (siendo que los países hoy
    industrializados emplearon frugalmente medidas de comercio cuando sus
    propias industrias nacionales necesitaban ese tipo de apoyo para
  • El cierre  de industrias y pequeños
    talleres locales como consecuencia de la presión que suponen las
    importaciones a precios más bajos llevaría a incrementar el desempleo.
    La liberalización del comercio impuesta por el FMI-Banco Mundial 
    mediante sus programas de ajuste estructural ya tuvo efectos
    desastrosos para el empleo en África, Asia y algunos países de América
  • Combinada con la des-industrialización, la
    liberalización de los recursos naturales prevista por el NAMA (que
    incluiría la pesca, la minería y los bosques y la silvicultura) también
    podría empujar a los países a una mayor dependencia de la exportación
    de materias primas que generan relativamente pocas ganancias, en lugar
    de contribuir a la diversificación de sus economías.  Cualquier aumento
    del volumen de captura en la pesca sería especialmente dañino, ya que
    conduciría a índices crecientes de desempleo, pobreza y desnutrición
    para los miles de millones de personas que dependen de los recursos
    marinos para su alimentación y sustento.
  • Los países en
    desarrollo también se verían privados de los ingresos que hoy perciben
    por concepto de aranceles comerciales (impuestos aduaneros). Esto es de
    importancia capital, ya que muchos de esos gobiernos dependen en buena
    medida de esos ingresos para costear servicios sociales esenciales.
  • El acuerdo sobre el NAMA empujaría asimismo a los países en desarrollo
    a una situación en la que tendrían que importar más, al mismo tiempo
    que exportarían menos a consecuencia de la des-industrialización,
    generándoles así crecientes déficit comercial y un deterioro sostenido
    de su balanza externa de pagos.

Explotación creciente de recursos naturales

Las negociaciones sobre el NAMA representan una seria amenaza
general al medioambiente, y la mayoría de los países ignoran los
efectos ambientales y sociales adversos que supondría potencialmente la
liberalización del comercio en materias primas. Todos los
recursos naturales están incluidos en las negociaciones del NAMA –y
algunos sectores como la pesca y la minería de oro, de diamantes y
aluminio incluso están propuestos para su liberalización completa.

  • La liberalización creciente de las materias primas podría
    conllevar mayor explotación y comercio de recursos naturales escasos, y
    privar a los gobiernos de su capacidad para emplear medidas comerciales
    a fin de administrar sus reservas de manera sustentable y por el bien
  • El acuerdo sobre el NAMA podría restringir el uso
    de aranceles u otras herramientas comerciales en manos de los gobiernos
    para preservar los medios de sustento de millones de pescadores
    artesanales en todo el mundo y garantizar que los pueblos de los países
    en desarrollo puedan seguir contando con la pesca como fuente
    importante de proteínas.
  • Los gobiernos tendrían menos
    espacio para utilizar medidas comerciales con el fin de proteger
    poblaciones de peces en peligro de extinción. Al mismo tiempo, la
    liberalización del comercio podría fortalecer aún más a las industrias
    de procesamiento de pescado y acuicultura, sin tener en cuenta los
    impactos sobre los derechos humanos y la contaminación de los ambientes

Leyes nacionales y espacio para la formulación de políticas en riesgo

Muchos gobiernos están usando el acuerdo sobre el NAMA y otras
negociaciones en el seno de la OMC para atacar legítimas normas no
comerciales de protección del medioambiente, el bienestar social y la
salud en todas partes. Ellos sostienen que estas llamadas “barreras al
comercio” obstruyen de algún modo las exportaciones de las empresas
transnacionales. Hay leyes sobre alimentos y medicinas, pesca, madera y
petróleo, eficiencia energética, pruebas químicas, reciclaje y normas
de calidad de las industrias electrónica y automotriz que han sido
colocadas en la lista como parte de las negociaciones de NAMA,
aparentemente por orden directa de las empresas que seguramente se
beneficiarán con su eliminación. Este ataque concertado a las
reglamentaciones hace caso omiso de la necesidad de utilizar normas
legales para proteger y promover la salud y bienestar de la ciudadanía,
conservar los recursos naturales y frenar el cambio climático.


Las negociaciones sobre el NAMA se están llevando a un ritmo tan
veloz que impide la participación efectiva de los gobiernos con menos
recursos y personal, y más aún que estos realicen los estudios
necesarios sobre el impacto potencial de un nuevo acuerdo de NAMA en
sus economías, los trabajadores y el medioambiente. Aun cuando los
Países Menos Adelantados disponen de algunas exoneraciones limitadas en
la actual ronda de negociaciones, ellas no son suficientes para
garantizar su desarrollo futuro.

En realidad, lo que se pretende imponer ahora es exactamente
contrapuesto al acuerdo para el “desarrollo” que  le vendieron a los
países en desarrollo en la Conferencia Ministerial de la OMC en Doha en
2001. En esa reunión, a los países en desarrollo se les prometió que no
tendrían que ceder tanto como los países más ricos. Pero en las
negociaciones actuales sobre el NAMA se les está exigiendo realizar
mayores “ajustes” y adaptaciones que a los países altamente
industrializados, y tomar riesgos mucho mayores respecto de su
producción actual y sus perspectivas futuras de desarrollo. Los
ministros de comercio de los países del África, el Caribe y el Pacífico
(ACP) ya han expresado claramente que les “preocupa que las
propuestas contenidas en el texto de Derbez y su anexo sobre [los
textos de negociación de] el NAMA … profundizarán aún más la crisis de
la des-industrialización y acentuarán el desempleo y la crisis de la
pobreza en nuestros países
”. Sin embargo, a pesar de estas
declaraciones de evidente preocupación, sus puntos de vista han sido
descaradamente ignorados por los países industrializados y los
responsables de forzar el avance de estas propuestas extremas. No se
puede permitir que esta situación continúe.  Por eso exhortamos a los
gobiernos a:

  • Detener las negociaciones sobre el NAMA y acordar al
    realización de una revisión exhaustiva e independiente acerca de los
    efectos potenciales del NAMA para el desarrollo económico, la
    diversificación productiva industrial de los países en desarrollo, el
    medioambiente y el bienestar social (incluidos empleo, salud y equidad
    de género);
  • Reconocer y garantizar el espacio político
    necesario y las flexibilidades con que deben contar los gobiernos,
    preservando su derecho a emplear herramientas políticas, incluso
    medidas comerciales cuyo fin sea generar economías justas y
    sustentables, proteger y promover el empleo, el bienestar social, la
    salud y el medioambiente al tiempo que se garantiza la participación de
    la ciudadanía;
  • Fomentar la conservación y el manejo
    sustentable de los recursos naturales incluso mediante la decisión de
    frenar la liberalización del comercio de bienes tales como los bosques,
    los peces, el petróleo, el gas, los metales y los minerales.
Categories: Planet Not For Sale