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.”
Amongst many other analyses and debates, the more extensive awareness of the active role of the state and of states in the purportedly highly successful 'market economies' in East Asia and South East Asia is bringing discussion of the role of state back into quite mainstream development discourse.
Alternatives to neo-liberal globalisation are needed that not only change people-to-people and South-South relations and situations, but also South-North relations and inter-actions to the benefit of all of humanity and our common planetary home.
South Africa is playing a significant role in supporting and extending the power of the World Trade Organisation, a new system of global government. This not only entails South Africa surrendering its own policy-making rights and space, but also means bargaining away the South African peoples’ democratic rights to determine their country’s internal economic, environmental, social and cultural policies.
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.
The international free trade and investment policies and the related WTO agreements played a major role in undermining so many developing countries' economies. The proponents of tese policies, including the EU, are now urging the govenrments of the world to end their resistance to such policies within the WTO.
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.
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 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.
The WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (the "GATS") has very much underpinned expansion without regulation and supervision, so the financial corporations had the guarantee that their expansion would be underpinned. But financial services are not the same as other services – they need special supervisory structures.
The major causes of the economic and social crises are now being even more blatantly promoted by the EU - both within the multilateral WTO negotiations and bilateral and bi-regional FTA/EPA negotiations - as the fundamental solutions.
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.