Wednesday, October 26, 2005

All set and ready to rumble in Dec 2005

All Fired up for WTO meeting in December

The battle lines have been drawn for what promises to be a fiery sixth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Hong Kong in mid-December.

Nearly 40 anti-globalisation protest movements, many of which will be present in Hong Kong, last week issued a statement calling on governments of developing countries not to sign the deal, and to be especially wary of the issue that will affect the travelign of millions of migrant workers and expatriate staff.

The statement said that a lopsided agreement "will only benefit skilled, white collar professionals and lead to a brain drain from developing to industrialised countries, while semi and unskilled workers will be blocked from movement across borders as before".

Migrant workers give rise to a significant percentage of air-traffic movements from countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. In the reverse direction, developed countries want developing countries to relax visas and work permit regulations that will facilitate relocation of expatriate staff.

Both forms of movement are of considerable financial interest to the airlines.

The entire issue is linked to a fundamental principle of globalised economic liberalisation which argues that free trade of products, money and services can yield only partial benefits without the free movement of people.

The WTO talks have for years focused on facilitating the free movement of agricultural products and manufactured products, but are now in the critical field of services, which includes travel and tourism, plus other service sectors like banking, telecommunications and health.

As the entire package is now on the negotiating table, the protestors are warning that developing country negotiators will make concessions in the services sectors in exchange for developed countries allowing in more exports of agricultural and manufactured products from the developing countries.

People movements are covered by a section of the WTO's Generalised Agreement on Trade in Services (Gats) classified in legal jargon as Mode 4.

But the statement issued by the anti-globalisation movements warned that "Developing country governments must not accept Mode 4 concessions as an incentive to open up their domestic services sectors to further liberalisation, or to provide market access in agriculture or non-agricultural market access."

It said that "many developing countries are using this as a bargaining chip to allow businesses from developed countries access into their own services markets."

However, any gains from Mode 4 will only benefit skilled, white collar professionals and lead to a brain drain from developing to industrialised countries, while semi- and unskilled workers will be blocked from movement across borders as before."

The statement said that with only two months to go before the Hong Kong conference, "pressure is mounting among WTO delegates to come up with an agreement to save the WTO from the humiliation of yet another round of failed talks.

"Although current negotiations appear deadlocked in all the main negotiating areas ... there are serious possibilities that through clever maneuvering and opportunistic deal making, the trade majors (particularly the United States and the European Union) with help from some developing countries (particularly India and Brazil) will attempt to push through a trade deal that will provide big gains to national and transnational corporations and highly skilled professionals from developed and developing countries, but which will prove disastrous to the majority of the peoples and communities of the world, especially farmers, fishermen, workers, migrants and other vulnerable groups."

It said negotiations were continuing "in their usual non-transparent and top-down manner", with countries forging temporary alliances to suit their interests.

"It is now up to us, social movements, mass organisations and other civil society organisations, to take a firm stand against the ongoing negotiations and ensure that our food, agriculture, health, jobs, natural resources, environment, services, industries and sovereignty are not bargained away for the profits of a handful of corporations and elite professionals."

One key element of this "opening up" process will enable foreign guides to work in many parts of Asia, a privilege that may not be reciprocal. The matter was discussed by the Asean task force on tourism manpower development in Yogyakarta last month.

The report noted concern about liberalising the tourist guide sector as most Asean member countries impose limitations on employment of foreign tourist guides.

"Under certain circumstances such as in peak tourism periods, foreign tourist guides may be allowed to provide such services. In this regard, the task force on tourism manpower was asked to study ways to further enhance the capacity building of local tourist guides in terms of their expertise and language skills."


See as the poorer countries get poorer, the abled workers leave home to be exploited.

Fight poverty, we must!

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Unity is Strength - Tsang flees and Lamy speaks

Hong Kong WTO chief flees protestors

An absolutely terrified John Tsang fled a round-table debate with members of non-government organisations (NGOs) here Sunday after protesters demanded he arrange a meeting with them to discuss their grievances.

His rapid departure via a back door (how unglamourous) left the World Trade Organisation secretary general Pascal Lamy stranded. Lamy then single-handedly face an angry crowd of banner-carrying activists (note that weapon of choice: banners).

A statement from the Hong Kong People's Alliance (HKPA) for the WTO said Tsang had been ignoring their calls for talks since it was announced that the city would be hosting this December summit last year.

"The expression of neglect agitated some of the alliance's members," said Elizabeth Tang, convenor of the organsiation, an umbrella group coordinating protests by the 10,000 NGOs and activists expected for the meeting.

"The HKPA believed that any responsible government would be happy to meet its constituents and collect opinion from them," Tang added. "Unfortunately Tsang refused us with the excuse for being 'busy'."

Tsang was unavailable for comment.

Protesters want assurances that the sixth ministerial conference (MC6) here will make provisions to ease the plight of the world's poor.

The five-day meeting is hoped to pave the way for a make-or-break deal on liberalising global trade and using free trade to alleviate poverty.

Tsang said a deal was possible but the sticking point was the United States' and the European Union's refusal to lower agricultural subsidies to their inefficient farmers, something experts say prevents peasants in the developing world from selling their goods overseas.

Organisers fear anti-globalisation protesters may turn the event into a riot similar to that seen during the WTO's summit in Seattle in 1999. The HKPA fears the Hong Kong police are inexperienced in such events and would overreact to trouble.

The success of the summit inside and outside the debating room rests in large part on Tsang's shoulders, as his office is overseeing the summit agenda and security arrangements.

In an astute commentary by the Hong Kong Standard newspaper said it "augurs bad for the WTO talks if Tsang ... runs away from a small group of protesters who were merely so badly behaved as to shout their frustration".

"Hong Kong is heading for trouble unless its senior officials can improve their game, maybe even get a game plan," the article, written by veteran journalist Kevin Rafferty said.


Clearly, this demonstrates that the HKPA have been making preparations since it was announced that the southern Chinese city would play host to the bi-yearly MC6.

Tsang's flight embarrasses both the WTO and IMF's choice in choosing Hong Kong to be the host city . For the man in-charge of chairing the MC6, he leaves his guest, the Director-General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy to face the unhappiness of the protestors.

Perhaps one wonders why Tsang had to retreat. The demonstrators did not bear spears or machete. They bore flags which carried the messages that both Tsang and Lamy did not want to address.

Where did the frustration stem from?

The demonstrators had block the passage for the vehicle as both Tsang and Lamy had refused to read the appeal letter presented by the HKPA. What was an agreement for the WTO MC6 coordinating office (MCO) to present the appeal letter to Tsang and Lamy became a breach in trust for the HKPA. The disappointment resulted in the protestors making an attempt to block the moving car with their bodies.

Even as the HKPA maintains an open approach to broach the issues to better the world, the MCO has only shun it further. Shame, shame, shame!

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Protest Action against WTO & IMF

Next up on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) itinerary is the Ministerial Conference. The sixth ministerial conference (MC6) since the induction of the WTO, the meeting is set to take place in Hong Kong, China from 13th to 18th December.

According to the WTO website, the MC6 is the topmost decision-making body which has to meet every two years. It brings together all members of the WTO. The MC can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements. This explains why poor nations are only getting poorer… The aid is lavished on opulent redundant meetings which draw no significance.


Whilst the members of the WTO doll up for their forth yearly tea session at our expenses, the NGOs have been working really hard. Already the NGOs have congregated and made plans for a successful demonstration.

Enter the
Hong Kong People’s Alliance (HKPA) on WTO. The group has been working actively since 22nd September 2004 to push for a shared theme in demonstration non NGO specific, planned for the MC6.

The HKPA has formed a committee to govern all aspects of the demonstration. Since late February this year, 6 working groups have been formed. The groups are Action and Mobilisation, Documentation, Logistics and Finance, Media and Publicity, Outreach and Program. The names of the groups are pretty much self-explanatory. Makes you want to kick the butts of all existing directors of both the WTO and IMF and hire the HKPA don’t you?

The current program line up for demonstrations in view of MC6 stands like this:
10th Dec – International Human Rights Day
11th Dec – Mobilisation Day and Cultural Event
12th – 17th Dec – Autonomous Organised Civil Society Event
13th Dec – MC6 Opening Plenary
18th Dec – Civil Society Closing Event

Apparently Director-General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy had sat face-to-face to with the NGOs at a roundtable forum yesterday. More updates on that when I get them.

Till then, get off the internet. I’ll see you on the streets.

Technorati Tags: World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund, WTO protest, Pascal Lamy, Ministerial Conference, MC6, WTO, IMF,

Thursday, October 06, 2005

XX Welcome to Globalise Not XX

Globalise Not!

Welcome to my blog on anti-globalisation.This is my first entry. Henceforth, I seek to abolish all positive imageries implanted in the minds of all the people that have been fed into their minds by the world financial strongholds. To announce the atrocities of the so-called democratic world economic giants like the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund. To put an end to the years of deception which have show naught even with years of funding and aid. To amplify the voices of the demonstrators who have consistently and persistently stood their ground for a better tomorrow, if not for themselves, for the rest of the world.

Join me, as I seek to rectify the wrong and address the truth. Like the many before, it does not matter how long it takes. I will strive to be heard. The truth must be made known!

Here's a brief introduction to the World Trade Organisation(WTO). Established on 1st January 1995, it is currently headed by director-general Pascal Lamy. With members from 148 countries, 630 secretariat stuff in the organisation and an overwhelming budget of 169 million Swiss francs, it's a wonder how the poor countries are further in debt since receiving aid from the WTO.

The International Monetary Fund(IMF) was conceived in July 1944. Its membership spans 184 countries with an alarming loan of $71 billion to 82 countries.

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