Ten years on from Seattle, TNI and other activists from Enlazando Alternativas have mobilised in Geneva together with the global network Our World is Not For Sale (OWINFS) to expose the role of the WTO and the "free trade" agreements in causing economic and climate crisis.
Netherlands/Jakarta, 14 November 2014 - The announcement on November 13th of a US-India agreement on trade facilitation and India’s food security programme was denounced today by Transnational Institute and Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI), the Indonesian Peasant Union Federation as a “victory for transnational corporations at the expense of peasant farmers.”
The WTO's crisis of legitimacy is evident in that despite deepening food, financial, economic and climate crises—to which the WTO has contributed significantly—its deregulation and liberalisation agenda remains much the same as in 2001.
The language contained in agreements being negotiated by the EU through the WTO with their southern counterparts often deliberately diguises real political goals, obscuring the negative economic implications for those countries of the neoliberal agenda.
After the WTO fiasco at Seattle, many neoliberal commentators set about rewriting history. They said, somewhat improbably, that the US had emerged victorious and Europe and the countries of the South had lost out, Europe because it had not managed to table new rules and the South because it had failed to get more markets opened in the North.
While there are still attempts to revive the WTO Doha Round, the EU is concentrating on bilateral and pluri-lateral trade agreements. These are more dangerous to smaller countries, so including a ‘democracy clause’ in the agreements is even more important, but also more difficult, says George in her speech at the conference “Fundamental rights and the global market.”
Today, just as faith in deregulated markets has evaporated in the nightmare on Wall Street, so too is the long reign of market fundamentalism (or neoliberalism) ending in the development arena. And, a debate over the best route to development has returned.
The financial crisis should be recognized as a very clear example of how the free trade and free market theory has failed, why the WTO should turn around away from this neo-liberal model and allow for all services and trade to be at the service of people and the planet, not of corporate profits.