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.
PAY FOR OUR OWN WATER
The direction of prepaid cards is the best expression of the full cost recovery, full cost pricing . What this means is that if you want to have access to water, you need to have money. Because you need the money in order to buy the prepaid cards for water. A very basic spiritual and life-giving elements of water that we as human beings relied on for all of our recorded history now come under threat. We needed purified and cleanse water. We had that for a couple of centuries any countries and in the third world in the last few decades. And obviously only half the third world is getting access to clean drinking water. But what we desperately want to see happen now is to ensure that everyone has at least that basic free lifeline. Everyone in the world. And so it’s really the job of citizens who care about the very most elemental component of our lives. We need water to live. We mustn’t let private companies take it away. And we must stop these so-called multilateral agencies, which really act for these big companies. This is where we really will draw the line.
The WTO includes all kinds of new special corporate protections and one of those is about what is called intellectual property. The right to own, to have a monopoly control of patents of an idea or a product. One of the most serious of these in Africa is the so-called trade related intellectual property rights – TRIPS. What it does by having such type patent laws and copyright laws is that it restrict technological innovation. Now when the US, Britain and the European countries have become developed, one must realize that when they were in their period of industrialization this country and Japan engaged in industrialisation by imitation. Basically by taking on the innovations of others without paying much for it or paying at all. You have a legal situation where you find that like rice in India in being now patented by some firm in America.
RICE ARE PATENTED
So for instance, a small farmer in a village who is great-grandfather and mother have come up with the perfect seed. And the seed over years of trying is the perfect seed for the climate and for all the surroundings and this superseed is shared and saved year after year and replanted to feed people in the community. If for instance a Swiss or other company comes in and takes the seed and get the patent then the farmers in the village whose ancestors created the seed are forbidden from the replanting their own seeds, from their own garden without paying a fee for a license to the owner of this new property.
So you find that the things which are in public domains being brought in private domains for private profit. in order to make a monopolist in the hands of private operators. the reality of this is that countries are told to come pull up the crops and starve people or make the poor farmer pay the money they don’t have simply to plant their own seeds. You will have a healthcare only possible for those who can afford to pay. The TRIPS agreement in the WTO have become a monstrous barrier to the capacity of states and societies inflicted with epidemic of HIV/aids. to provoke low-cost medicine for HIV and aids.
It puts in control over the use, trade, purchase of medicine or drugs that are needed. And in African countries there is something like 30 million people who are infected with HIV. And African governments would like to be able to buy these drugs from countries such as India and Brazil, which produce them much more cheaply. But the pharmaceutical companies using their governments have threaten to take African countries to the World Trade organisation dispute court and charge them with violating the intellectual property rights of these pharmaceuticals. So they are preventing African countries from buying life-saving drugs much more cheaply and that is extremely serious.
WTO IS ANTI-DEVELOPMENT
TRIPS is to protect transnational corporations but as a result poor people can’t access to these expensive drugs and governments in those countries are don’t have the budget to purchase these drugs. So this whole process of commodification of services has been encouraged by the WTO. So I think that given the experience of the last seven years. I think that there is a sense that the WTO is an organisation that does not serve the interest of people. That is an agency that mainly serves the interest of the transnational corporations. And that it is a very anti-development sort of organisation. These new agreements if they come into being would be very damaging. We have to say that those issues are not issues for traders. The WTO in its current form has to go. The WTO is a disaster. It’s an institution that promotes corporations, that tells governments that they can’t protect their citizens and their environment anymore. And people have to say no to the WTO. This is not an organisation that can be reformed or improved, because it is based on a fundamentally dangerous paradigm or model. Which is a danger to the whole world.
Do we need international trade rules, of course we do. Nobody is against trade and nobody is against fair trade. But its insane to be sending food halfway around the world that should be grown locally when people locally are going hungry. It’s insane to let big corporations come in and take over your water when people need that water. It’s insane to turn around and say you can’t have your own local public health care systems, you got to let big american corporations in to give healthcare but only to those who can afford it. This is no way to run the world, this will destroy the world. Say no to WTO and the corporations the WTO is putting in place in our lives. It’s not our trade agreements, it belongs to the corporations. They can have it but you know what, they can’t do anything with it cos we say no.