Tailored for Sharks

02 December 2013
Report

How rules are tailored and public interest surrendered to suit corporate interests in the WTO, FTAs and BITs trade and investment regime 

The discourse of rules and fairness usually brings up ideas of equality, justice and upholding of rights. Therefore, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) describes itself as a “rules-based” system that treats all member countries fairly based on the principle of “non-discrimination”, it could be concluded that the WTO multilateral trading system is just and equitable.

But if the WTO system were indeed equitable, then why has global trade become concentrated in the hands of a few corporations, indicating that only a few big corporate players benefit from the global trading system.Why is it that 80% of US exports are handled by only 1% of the largest exporters and 85% of EU exports are in the hands of only 10% of the big exporters? If the WTO rules based system were really non- discriminatory, equitable and just, then shouldn’t there be an equal distribution of economic benefits to all 159 Members countries?

This Report contests some key assumptions about the rules based global trade and investment system. It addresses such questions as: Who are the real beneficiaries of the legally binding and enforceable agreements and rules of the WTO that ensures the smooth, predictable and free movement of trade flows?

Who are the key players in global trade that would benefit from the breaking down of all trade barriers? And ultimately, whose trade organization is the WTO really and how is it related to the regime of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and International Investment Agreements (IIAs)?

How is this elaboration of rules designed to privilege the unilateral operations of transnational corporations (TNCs) which maintains a sea of sharks and sardines?

How does the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) work?

Are all these rules designed as part of the neoliberal architecture of impunity protecting the privileges of these corporations?

And in this environment, how is the public interest and national sovereignty surrendered?

 

Contents

Part 1 How the WTO got its teeth 

The Illusion of the Sovereign State
A Sea of Sharks and Sardines

The World TNC Organization: The real beneficiaries of the global trade rules

Part 2 WTO rules and the free trade regime provide more favorable treatment for sharks than sardines

Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) Privilege
Transnational ‘National Treatment’
Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS)

Part 3 How does the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) work?

In the WTO
In the FTAs and BITs

Part 4 Cases of dismantling Public Policy to favor Transnational Corporations

In the WTO
In the FTAs and BITs
The WTO and FTAs - Partners in Crime

Part 5 Trade Disputes in numbers

In the WTO
In the FTAs and BITs

Conclusions 

 
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Tailored for sharks(pdf, 559.48 KB)