This text is from the documentary: WTO – why is it really bad for you? The documentary was made in early 2000 by a group called Focus on the global south. Here we can read how World Trade Organisation favours big corporations on behalf of local industries. This is part two.
FOOD SECURITY TAKEN AWAY
Food security is the ability of a country to be able to feed itself. Overall food security is a very comprehensive concept that means that people have the right to food and have the right to produce food . Countries have the right to be able to have an agricultural system that responds to their interest. Food security is now something that is really lost. The WTO has something called AoA – the agreement on agriculture. It institutionalize inequality, high subsidies for farming interest in the EU and USA. Through the agreement on agriculture, corporations are able to dump subsidized food on third world countries, robbing farmers of their livelihoods. Meantime they are able to take over domestic markets in food production and deny us our right to African culture, our right to livelihood and food and our right to safe food. Whenever subsidies are provided for the rich corporations it is classified as incentives and incentives are said to be good. When the state supports the poor and the poor countries then that is called subsidies, and subsidies are said to be bad.
AOA IS DESTRUCTIVE
We can see that the market access of the WTO, the opening up of the markets culture in Pella has a negative impact. After the AoA they opened up that markets, reduced the taxations. And the cheap agriculture products from northern countries that has been dumped into Thailand has flooded the local market.They are killing local farmers because they are competitors with local farmers. In many countries in the north, about 30 to 60 percent of farmers incomes are provided by state subsidies. Now compare that to the developing countries. The agreement on agriculture demands a liberalisation, a lifting of tariffs, the end of quotas and market access into this countries. whereas agriculture in these countries are not subsidised. There is very little subsidization of agriculture because Thailand do not have the money to subsidize its farmers.
The small producer cant fight with this cheap agriculture production. So what happens therefore in Thailand is that subsidized crops with lowered prices are dumped on our countries. And the cost of producing goods of our farmers were not subsidized it’s high. So that the products from outside Thailand can be sold at a price cheaper. So our farmers are put out of business. This is what the trade agreement is about. AOA- it’s not an agreement to promote free trade, it is in fact an agreement to consolidate and hold on to monopoly.
PRIVATISATION OF PUBLIC SERVICES
When it comes to question of services which is the TISA – Trade In Service Agreement I think the problem that we face here is a situation whereby there is a great threat that public services including health, education, water are going to be opened up to transnational corporations. GATT which is an agreement with the process of legalizing privatisations of essential public services.WTO basically says you can’t have regulations to protect your health, your water, your national resources, your people if those regulations are interrupt the flow of international trade. So trade is the only important thing. For instance of water, any country that wants to protect its water and says that it’s a fundamental right is going to run straight into the WTO.
Water is a human need not a human right says WTO. If water is a human need then anyone can deliver this water, the private sector, anybody . But if it’s a human right, you can’t mark it or trade or sell a human right. Nobody should be allowed to make money from somebodys need for water. The problem with neoliberalism is that it encourages the commodification of everything. And when we get to water and were buying things that should be purified and made available for us as citizens or our municipalities. When we see french and british water companies, especially german and US coming in now, taking the water and adding a thirty percent or more profit and then taking that money out of the countries where poor people are suffering, we have a big problem.
EU FAVOURS BIG CORPORATIONS
In south Africa there is a tragedy going on. We had a hope that once we overthrew apartheid, we would have water for all, electricity for all, houses for all, education for all. But now because of privatization many poor people are losing access to electricity, to water, to their houses. The government is buzzy selling of governments assets such as our telecommunications, our roads, our water. Which means that these services are going to be provided to make a profit and not to provide a service. The privatization and commodification of water. It’s clear that the EU is representing the interests of two big water corporations – Vivendi and Suez Lyonnaise. These companies they working together with the World Bank , the Asian development bank, pushing for full cost recovery, pushing for no subsidies for water, resources, especially for the poor and the poor farmers. And essentially saying that if you want to acquire water you have to pay for it. As soon as these services are in their hands of these national corporations. It means that we wont have democratic control over such services.
Any country that wants to protect its water, that says water is a human right and that we want to keep it in the public hands , the public domain, is not going to be allowed to do it anymore. Because under the WTO water is a good, which means that you can’t restrict its export or even if it’s for environmental reasons. Water is a service now and that means you have to open up your service, your municipal services to big corporations. And soon they’re going to be putting water as an investment in the World Trade Organisation. Which means corporations will be able to sue governments of other countries if they interrupt their corporate rights to their right to profit in that country. It will force many governments to deregulate. Which means that we move to a market model for the distribution of services rather than making sure that all people who have a right to those services are in fact going to receive them.