Draft Platform being circulated in the context of the African Continental Meeting : "Resisting the WTO - Taking the Spirit of Seattle to Cancun"
The history of "free trade" and money chasing money has always been a history of exploitation and rape of the earth's natural resources. It is a history where the needs of people have been sacrificed on the altar of profit. So it is again today with the World Trade Organisation, which is facilitating the further concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few transnational corporations and the tiny elites in the Global South. In this respect it continues the function of its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
Since the launch of the WTO in 1994, we have seen an accelerated process of de-industrialisation, appropriation of natural resources and destruction of social services, leading to huge job losses and mass impoverishment of our people.
The WTO is not just about imports and exports of goods, but each round of negotiations sees increasing encroachments on every aspect of economic and social activity. The WTO seeks to extract wealth from the South, to continue servicing both the debt of the North and the burdens of over-consumption within the North. By bringing investment, services, agriculture, food, competition policy and government procurement under its ambit and inventing 'intellectual property', the WTO undermines peoples access to and democratic control over resources, and usurps governments' authority to regulate the economic, social and cultural spheres for the benefit of human development. . The neoliberal, free-trade paradigm institutionalised in the WTO subverts the interests of people both in the South and the North. The undemocratic and unaccountable system of operation, which facilitates arm-twisting by the powerful over the weak has created a legacy of greater poverty, inequity, gender inequality, and indebtedness throughout the world. It has promoted unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and accelerated the destruction of the global environment.
In South Africa this, together with the macro-economic policy environment, has begun to undermine the urgent tasks of reconstruction and development, redistribution of wealth and the elimination of poverty, democracy and the empowerment of our people based on access to decent and secure jobs.
In September the WTO will meet in Cancun, Mexico. The powerful industrialised countries pushed by their transnational corporations will use this meeting to pursue privatisation, deregulation and liberalisation of all aspects of economic life through:
Investment whereby they seek to give greater rights to transnational investors to hold themselves above national decisions on development priorities, macroeconomic policy, environmental directives, and implementation of international human rights law and norms.
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) whereby they seek to make all services a commodity to be traded for profit regardless of their fundamental importance as public or social goods. Still further commercialisation and privatisation of water, energy, education, health, social services, transport etc will place these essential services beyond the reach of most South Africans
Competition Policy whereby they seek to curb government's from regulating the entry and operation of TNCs in their countries and from supporting and protecting domestic enterprises.
Government Procurement whereby they seek to curb the right of government to make purchases according to national plans and priorities.
Agriculture whereby they seek outlets for their own 'surplus' agriculture while ensuring the protection of their over-subsidised agricultural markets and keep out competing products from the South. Liberalisation of food industry and the promotion of genetically modified organisms have dramatically endangered the food security and sovereignty of countries as well as their bio-diversity.
We members of trade unions, religious organisations, women's, youth, civic and other non governmental organisations agree to unite in a popular campaign to:
Raise public awareness of the nature, role and damaging effects of the policies of the WTO
Call for our Constitutional Right to participate in decisions that affect our lives
Demand that our government make transparent its position in relation to the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting and other important multilateral and bilateral trade agreements;
Require that our government, which was instrumental in attaining Corporate Accountability at last year's WSSD, ensures that this multilateral agreement is not undermined by the rules and regulations visited upon the world by the WTO
Oppose our government's positions on the WTO where these lead to commercialisation of public goods and services, privatisation, greater rights for transnational corporations and mobility of capital and the loss of democratic control over our economic, social, environmental and cultural lives
Join our compatriots in all parts of the world to launch massive united and coordinated demonstrations on Sept. 9, the Day of Direct Actions against the WTO, and on Sept. 13, the Day of Global Marches against Globalisation and War.