As the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) officially opens today in Nairobi, Kenya, the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) is organizing simultaneous protests in Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The APC is also co-organizing with the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), Bunge La Mwananchi, Kenya Food Rights Alliance, SEATINI-Kenya, Fahamu, Growth Partner Africa, IBON International, and the Asia Pacific Research Network, a Peoples Forum on the WTO to be held in Nairobi, Kenya also with social justice activists and advocates from over 10 countries in attendance and this will be followed by a Peoples Procession, also in Kenya.
“Among the main agenda of the WTO’s 10th Ministerial meeting of its 162 member-countries which is being pushed by developed countries led by the United States is to extend the implementation and compliance period of the elimination of export subsidies agreed upon during the Hong Kong ministerial in 2005 for another six years, from 2016 to 2022,” according to Rafael Mariano, APC Chairperson and national chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines-KMP).
Citing data from the WTO, USD18 trillion worth of goods were traded in 2014. The world’s biggest exporters in 2014 were China, the United States, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. Developed economies’ share of global trade stood at 54 percent, with 44 percent being the contribution of developing and less developed economies. Africa’s share of global trade stood at a paltry 3 percent.
“The WTO remains an instrument used by the global monopoly capital to advance neoliberal trade and concentrate wealth at the hands of the richest one percent. For example, 80 people have same wealth as bottom half of world’s population, wherein the total global wealth is US$263 trillion. Worse, the top 1% of people will have more wealth than bottom 99% by 2016,” said Mariano.
Mariano added that, “after 20 years of WTO, it strengthens monopoly capitalist control over the world’s resources including land, water, forests, food, health/medicines, infrastructure, technology and even knowledge. In Pakistan, the government has allowed TNCs to lease unlimited land with a minimum ceiling of 1,500 acres. In addition, TNCs have been promised 100% equity, numerous tax incentives and full repatriation of profits. Also, WTO paved the way for full-scale liberalization in agriculture in Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal that led to the massive flooding of imported food and other agricultural products. In Africa, decades of subsidized food imports from the United States, Canada, and the European Union have destroyed the already backward rural food systems and worsened the poverty of small agricultural producers. In Europe, only 3 global companies control 80% of the soybean-crushing market.”
The farmer-leader noted that, “In the Philippines, in the first five years of the implementation of WTO Agreements from 1994 to 1999, more than 900,000 jobs were lost in agriculture alone. According to independent think tank Ibon Foundation, from 1994 to 2010, food insecurity increased 11 times. In 1994, agricultural trade deficit was $287 million and in 2010, it rose to $3.3 billion. In India, 300,000 farmers have committed suicide because WTO destroyed their only source of livelihood. This is happening in many parts of the world.”
“The WTO is designed only to serve imperialist plunderous expansion and to submit billions of people to the needs of monopoly capital. The developed countries will never allow any reform that threatens their hegemony. To give the world’s millions of farmers a chance to survive, the WTO SHOULD BE JUNKED NOW! Governments should implement genuine, truly distributive agrarian reform and national industrialization programs. An international economic cooperation based on independence, solidarity and complementarity should be promoted and not unequal trade competition or market domination by big economies,” ended. ###