“They buy and sell us like cattle.” — 25-year-old Bangladeshi worker, who was trafficked among three contractors for six months without receiving any pay on Malaysian palm oil plantations. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Co-authored by Abby McGill, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
The coming months will be critical for most people in our world. Governments of several countries are negotiating trade agreements which have the potential to impact all of us. Many of us believe the impact will be positive for the “haves” and negative for the “have-not”. The issue is complex and the Bishops have helped us with some guiding principles. Two of the major agreements are:
• The TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, includes the following countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
• The TTIP, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, includes countries of the European Union and the United States.
By Aldo Caliari, Director, Rethinking Bretton Woods Project, Center of Concern
There is almost no dispute that the worst performance of all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was registered on MDG 8, the Global Partnership for Development. The impending deliberations to shape the post-2015 development agenda offers a high level political opportunity to correct that imbalance.
For that, it is important to avoid treading the same path of the MDG approach. The initial blueprint for the MDGs entirely neglected mention of the means of implementation necessary in the form of international support. Since it was clear that developing countries would never get on board with an agenda that would harshly judge their progress in improving certain quantifiable indicators without correlative commitments of financial support to help achieve them, one more goal was added, and this was Goal 8 on the Global Partnership. Accepting this approach condoned the methodological nonsense of putting means of implementation as a category equivalent to the goals they should serve. It condemned finance for development to the constraints of a format that required simplified, succinct, one-size-fits-all statements that could never capture the breadth, complexity and diversity needed for development finance to work.
Farmers, union, environmental and women’s activists gathered in Mexico City last week to take stock of the lessons from NAFTA and plan strategies to confront the next big threat: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). One of the earliest lessons from the NAFTA experience was that people and environments in all three countries were affected. The stories from Mexico, Canada and the U.S. were remarkably similar: environmental destruction, threats to union and community organizing, and, in all sectors, a marked increase in corporate concentration as companies gained new abilities to move different aspects of production across borders in search of lower costs and higher profits. Continue reading Agriculture in TPP: Repeating NAFTA’s Mistakes→
Hard work, smart planning and perseverance made 2013 a year of inspiring fair-trade activism.
Vibrant grassroots activism and dogged D.C. advocacy resulted in a new level of public and congressional concern about the perils of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In November, three of every four Democrats – and a remarkable number of Republicans – publicly stated their opposition to Fast Track trade authority. The extreme procedure is seen as critical by TPP’s corporate boosters because it could railroad the TPP through Congress despite growing concerns about many aspects of the pact. Continue reading Get Ready for the 2014 Trade Tsunami→
Instead a negotiation process that is neither democratic and or transparent is likely to perpetuate a managed trade regime
Though nothing has come of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha development round of global trade negotiations since they were launched almost a dozen years ago, another round of talks is in the works. This time the negotiations will not be held on a global, multilateral basis. Rather, two huge regional agreements – one transpacific, and the other transatlantic – are to be negotiated. Are the coming talks likely to be more successful?
The Doha round was torpedoed by the US refusal to eliminate agricultural subsidies – a sine qua non for any true development round, given that 70% of those in the developing world depend on agriculture directly or indirectly. The US position was truly breathtaking, given that the WTO had already judged that America’s cotton subsidies – paid to fewer than 25,000 rich farmers – were illegal. Washington’s response was to bribe Brazil, which had brought the complaint, not to pursue the matter further, leaving in the lurch millions of poor cotton farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and India, who suffer from depressed prices because of America’s largesse to its wealthy farmers. Continue reading So-called free trade talks should be in the public, not corporate interest→
By Antoaneta Becker
LONDON, Sep 27, 2010 (IPS) – Irked by accusations that it is the new coloniser of Africa, China is looking to use soft power and historical evidence of its ancient links to the continent to justify its economic embrace of Africa.
Chinese archaeologists have been sent to hunt for a long-lost shipwreck off the Kenya coast to support claims that China beat white explorers in discovering Africa. Meanwhile Beijing is preparing to fund more research on the continent to aid its companies and banks’ quest for expansion there. Continue reading China Summons Past to Advance Into Africa→