Fwd: 10 Reasons to Dismantle the WTO

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMdojo.tao.ca
Sun Dec 5 11:42:08 MST 1999

Folks, this is a rough sum of the gathered in Seattle opinions. Any
critiques? Keep in mind this leaflet hit thousands already... I wonder
if there is much debate around #4.

Macdonald Stainsby

check the "ten point platform" of Tao at: http://new.tao.ca

"To give food aid to a country just because they are starving is a
pretty weak reason."
   Henry Kissinger, 1974
(former American Secretary of State)

> forwarded From: Eric Doherty / Maryann Abbs <edoherty at portal.ca>

> Please copy and distribute widely! The mainstream press is covering
> demonstrations but not the substance of the WTO.
> Thanks, Eric
> 10 Reasons to Dismantle the WTO
> By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
> (http://www.corporatepredators.org)
> Published by the Vancouver Grassroots Alliance – email vga at tao.ca
> 1. The WTO prioritizes trade and commercial considerations over all
> other values. WTO rules generally require domestic laws, rules and
> regulations designed to further worker, consumer, environmental,
> safety, human rights, animal protection or other non-commercial
> interests to be undertaken in the "least trade restrictive" fashion
> possible -- almost never is trade subordinated to these noncommercial
> concerns.
>  2. The WTO undermines democracy. Its rules drastically shrink the
> choices available to democratically controlled governments, with
> violations potentially punished with harsh penalties. The WTO actually
> touts this overriding of domestic decisions about how economies should
> be organized and corporations controlled. "Under WTO rules, once a
> commitment has been made to liberalize a sector of trade, it is
> difficult to reverse," the WTO says in a paper on the benefits of the
> organization which is published on its web site. "Quite often,
> governments use the WTO as a welcome external constraint on their
> policies: 'we can't do this because it would violate the WTO
> agreements.'"
> 3. The WTO does not just regulate, it actively promotes, global trade.
> Its rules are biased to facilitate global commerce at the expense of
> efforts to promote local economic development and policies that move
> communities, countries, and regions in the direction of greater
> self-reliance.
> 4. The WTO hurts the Third World. WTO rules force Third World
> to open their markets to rich country multinationals, and abandon
> efforts to protect infant domestic industries. In agriculture, the
> opening to foreign imports, soon to be imposed on developing
> will catalyze a massive social dislocation of many millions of rural
> people.
> 5. The WTO eviscerates the Precautionary Principle. WTO rules
> block countries from acting in response to potential risk --
requiring a
> probability before governments can move to resolve harms to human
> or the environment.
> 6. The WTO squashes diversity. WTO rules establish international
> health, environmental and other standards as a global ceiling through
> process of "harmonization;" countries or even states and cities can
> exceed them by overcoming high hurdles.
> 7. The WTO operates in secrecy. Its tribunals rule on the “legality"
> nations' laws, but carry out their work behind closed doors.
> 8. The WTO limits governments' ability to use their purchasing dollar
> for human rights, environmental, worker rights, and other non-
> purposes. In general, WTO rules state that governments can make
> purchases based only on quality and cost considerations.
> 9. The WTO disallows bans on imports of goods made with child labor.
> general, WTO rules do not allow countries to treat products
> based on how they were produced -- irrespective of whether made with
> brutalized child labor, with workers exposed to toxics or with no
> for species protection.
> 10. The WTO legitimizes life patents. WTO rules permit and in some
> require patents or similar exclusive protections for life forms.
> Some of these problems, such as the WTO's penchant for secrecy, could
> potentially be fixed, but the core problems -- prioritization of
> commercial over other values, the constraints on democratic
> decision-making, and the bias against local economies -- cannot, for
> they are inherent in the WTO itself.
> Because of these unfixable problems, the World Trade Organization
> be shut down, sooner rather than later.
> That doesn't mean interim steps shouldn't be taken. It does mean that
> beneficial reforms will focus not on adding new areas of competence to
> the WTO or enhancing its authority, even if the new areas appear
> desirable (such as labor rights or competition). Instead, the reforms
> pursue are those that reduce or limit the WTO's power -- for example,
> denying it the authority to invalidate laws passed pursuant to
> international environmental agreements, limiting application of WTO
> agricultural rules in the Third World, or eliminating certain subject
> matters (such as essential medicines or life forms) from coverage
> the WTO's agreement.
> These measures are necessary and desirable in their own right, and
> would help generate momentum to close down the WTO.

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