Category Archives: World Trade Organisation

Why America is Moving Away from the WTO: Interview with Tim Wise

Jessica Desvarieux talks to Tim Wise of Tuft University as WTO ministers meet in Nairobi, Kenya. Wise explains the tensions between developing countries and developed countries, and why America is pursuing asymmetrical negotiations in regional trade deals like the TPP. (The Real News)

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New TISA leak: Secret trade deal threatens privacy rights

Santiago Carrion reports for ROAR Magazine:

‘On Wednesday, the Associated Whistleblowing Press published a new leak revealing US attempts to undermine privacy rights, net neutrality and internet freedoms through top-secret negotiations over the little-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Even a quick glance at the leaked document is already extremely revealing. At the top of its front page, in capital letters, the word CONFIDENTIAL is highlighted — and further down the full extent of the treaty’s secret nature is revealed: “Declassify on five years from entry into force of the TISA agreement.”

A full reading and understanding of the text, however, not only explains these harsh terms, but makes them necessary. Because what government would tell its citizens, explicitly, that they are opening the door for mega-corporations to take control of their public services? What company would clearly inform its customers that their private data will be handed over to foreign entities without any restrictions? In the case of TISA, when the players involved include the US, the EU and more than twenty other countries — together making up almost 70% of the world services market — the answers are painfully obvious.’

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Global Value Chains, Globalisation and the New Trade Policy Narrative: Interview with Faizel Ismail

World Trade Organization’s failure points to fragmented future for global trade

From Reuters:

‘[…] For several years, many of the bigger economies have been pouring their energies into new clubs aiming to liberalise trade in particular regions or in specific sectors of the economy. “What WTO promoters fail to understand is that their forum competes with other vehicles for reform. Through poor design, bad luck and bad tactics, the WTO has handicapped itself in this race,” said Evenett.

Of all the big economies, India has perhaps bet most on the WTO, with little progress in opening up bilateral or regional ties. Despite its role as a offshore services hub and its vast population, it has yet to sew up a bilateral trade agreement with the EU and an investment treaty with the United States. The 28-nation EU and the United States, which are trying to negotiate a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, are among pioneers of the smaller clubs, but China is also involved.

Beijing is a member of groups trying to develop new standards for information technology products and environmental goods, and it wants to join one that is working to liberalise trade in services. Last week’s veto prompted some countries to discuss moving ahead with the customs treaty without India.’

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Unipolar world is coming to an end, Putin says

From Vestnik Kavkaza:

‘President of Russia Vladimir Putin stated at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that the unipolar model of the world has failed; and today it is obvious to everybody, including those who try to live in the past and maintain a monopoly, dictate their rules in politics, trade, finance, and impose cultural standards.’

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The Dark Side of Globalization: Why Seattle’s 1999 Protesters Were Right

Wikimedia CommonsFrom The Atlantic:

In 1999, my friend moved to Seattle, where he was hit with rubber bullets, tear-gassed in the face, and nearly arrested by police. He had joined the famous protests of the WTO Ministerial Conference, widely known as the Seattle Protests. The Occupy Wall Street of their time, they focused on globalization rather than the excesses of finance. And, quite like the Occupy Wall Street of their time, they were often mocked by critics as silly, aimless, and overly hand-wringy about the future.

The organizers were a hodgepodge of groups—unions worried about competition from cheap foreign labor, environmentalists worried about the outsourcing of polluting activities, consumer protection groups worried about unsafe imports, labor rights groups worried about bad working conditions in other countries, and leftists of various stripes simply venting their anger at capitalism.

In the decade that followed, the Seattle protests came to seem as not only silly, but also misguided. After all, what were the excesses of globalization compared to the travesty of the Iraq War, or the disaster of the financial crisis? America seemed to decide that we had much more important things to protest about, and the Seattle protesters have been largely forgotten in our pop media culture.

It is a shame, because the worries of the Seattle protesters have been proven right on nearly every count.

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Making the World Safe for Banksters

From Counterpunch:

In an August 2013 article titled “Larry Summers and the Secret ‘End-game’ Memo,” Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement of the World Trade Organization.

The “end-game” would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned; and “usury” – charging rent for the “use” of money – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime. That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly-owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don’t need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations.

Bank deregulation proceeded according to plan, and the government-sanctioned and -nurtured derivatives business mushroomed into a $700-plus trillion pyramid scheme. Highly leveraged,  completely unregulated, and dangerously unsustainable, it collapsed in 2008 when investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, taking a large segment of the global economy with it. The countries that managed to escape were those sustained by public banking models outside the international banking net.

These countries were not all Islamic. Forty percent of banks globally are publicly-owned. They are largely in the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—which house forty percent of the global population. They also escaped the 2008 credit crisis, but they at least made a show of conforming to Western banking rules. This was not true of the “rogue” Islamic nations, where usury was forbidden by Islamic teaching. To make the world safe for usury, these rogue states had to be silenced by other means. Having failed to succumb to economic coercion, they wound up in the crosshairs of the powerful US military.

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