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WTO: Civil society will not accept
In the "millennium round" of the WTO there will be intent to deepen the liberalization of the international trade, through the incorporation of new agreements of deregulation of areas such as agriculture, services and investments.
In response to this, we repeat our disagreement with this process, that has not been preceded by a serious and responsible evaluation of what the international deregulation and liberalization has meant so far for our economies and peoples.
Even the World Bank signals a great worry for the increased poverty, and the United Nations signals a deepened gap between the rich and the poor. At the same time, the new round in Seattle, ignores the urgent necessity to evaluate and revise its politics.
Liberalizing the service sector would in Chile mean a deepening of the economic concentration to a few large transnational companies. A clear example of this during this year in a period of serious drought, is the Spanish Endesa energy company that bypassed existing antitrust legislation and has taken control of the generation, distribution and sales of electricity. While acquiring almost total control of the market, it has also fired several hundred employees.
We also refuse a greater level of liberalization in the agricultural sector. In Chile, the change to growing crops for exports as well as planting fast-growing trees has been to the benefit of large multinational companies. It has harmed the traditional agriculture and threatens the country's food security. The import tax reform, agreed to by Chile in the Uruguay round, threatens sugar and wheat production, as well as keeping the state support for the milk industry.
Chile needs a treaty fit for the two sides of the modernization of agriculture. The high level of use of pesticides and herbicides and the introduction of transgenetic crops need adequate regulation, which respects the life and health of season workers, especially women, and the consumers.
The Asiatic crisis and the deregulated opening of our market has produced a level of unemployment which in Chile almost reaches 15 percent of the active population, which is more than a doubling of the 1998 figure.
The Chilean Alliance for a Fair and Responsible Trade demands the following:
At an international level:
- That a moratorium is declared, while evaluating the effects that the liberalization of world trade has had on the economies and peoples.
- That the poorer countries receive a preferential treatment or "positive discrimination", to achieve a greater level of development and diminish the immense gap between the developed and the developing countries.
- That the dumping exercised by the richer countries of products with added value ends, especially with regards to agricultural products and textiles.
- That a working group of the civil society of the members countries will be created, annexed to the official meeting, whose work will be to monitor the impact of the negotiations and agreements, and to advance towards a real integration of the peoples.
- That there will be established regulative norms for the transferring of money and capital, and that some kind of tax in favor of the poorer countries will be introduced, such as proposed for several years by the American economist James Tobin.
- That the reduction of poverty, the implementation of democracy, equality and environmental protection become central parts of the world trade agreement.
- That the economic system protects the agriculture, especially the indigenous peoples and small-scale farmers of our continent and the peoples of Africa and Asia, as well as protecting the food security, as was agreed by FAO on the world summit of alimentation in Rome, 1996.
- That the WTO supports the dialogue with the NGO's and creates an international observatory and a system of information and consultations in order to facilitate the debate and advance towards fairer and more equal agreements between the countries.
- That an international fund be created, accessible to the developing countries and the civil society, to make possible the acquisition of technical equipment and specialization, enabling the evaluation of the real ecological impact of the agreements, the rules and regulations. This will help focus future negotiations.
At a national level:
- That the development of national legislation will advance, in order to better protect the rights of the workers and establish a clear, strong environmental legislation. In this manner we can avoid any type of international discrimination and favor a better quality of life and the genuine progress of our citizens.
- That economic regulations for foreign investments be introduced, and that the pension funds and the like not be allowed to invest on international stock markets, as well as introducing a mining tax on private national and international companies.
- That effective mechanisms be introduced in order to incorporate the civil society in the negotiations, through information, consulting and working groups, so that the future commercial negotiations won't be decided on the basis of bettering the situation for a privileged few.
The Chilean Alliance for a Fair and Responsible Trade, November 1999.