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Nelson Global Protest against the WTO

Nelson Action Group, Box 984, Nelson

30.11.99

Press Statement - for Immediate Release

Nelson action in support of the Global Protest against the WTO

Street theatre in Trafalgar Street, Nelson is scheduled to commence at mid-day on Tuesday 30th November starting from Wakatu Sq. and going up Trafalgar St to the 1903 site.

It will take the form of face-less stilt walkers representing the WTO, manipulating puppets representing politicians. The puppets will be dressed up as well-known politicians with 2 faces. The politicians in turn have people caught up in a net.

The purpose of the street theatre is to draw attention to the way multi-nationals that determine WTO policies are increasingly manipulating New Zealand politicians and highlight New Zealand’s consequent loss of sovereignty.

What is the WTO? WTO is an acronym standing fro World Trade Organisation. It is a global system of corporate-managed trade which puts profits before people and the environment. Its mandate is to "increase world trade", its agenda to free corporations from government regulations. 136 countries are members of the WTO. However the organisation primarily represents business interests. Countries are signed up because they have no other choice. If they don’t abide by the WTO rules they are effectively shut out of the global economy. This is why our nation’s politicians are little more than puppets.

Why the 30th November? The WTO is holding its ministerial summit in Seattle from 30th Nov. to 3rd Dec. Tens of thousands of activists are expected to be in Seattle during the meetings. There will be a large alternative summit, teach-ins and demonstrations. Actions like the one in Nelson will also be held around the world.

Why we care? Because it can be used to, among other things, force unsafe (e.g. GE) foods on us. Because it is a highly undemocratic, non-transparent, and unaccountable organization that allows the rich industrialized nations and their industries to wield enormous power and control over the vast resources and wealth in the world. Though it has 136 member countries and 33 with observer status, the rich countries have repeatedly made key decisions in closed door meetings, excluding the other nations from the decision-making process. The 700-plus pages of WTO rules cover tariffs and trade, agriculture, intellectual property and services, and place the right to trade above human rights, women, workers and the environment.

WTO Dispute Settlement Process. The WTO Dispute Settlement Process allows countries to challenge each other’s laws and regulations as violations of WTO rules. Cases are decided by a panel of three trade bureaucrats and operate in secret. There are no conflicts of interest rules and decisions cannot be appealed. Thus, every single environmental or public health law challenged at the WTO has been ruled illegal. Once a ruling has been made, the losing country must change their laws to conform to the decision, or face ongoing trade sanctions. The USA has been forced to change their Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act, and the EU will continue to face multimillion dollar trade sanctions unless they agree to import US beef that has been raised with artificial growth hormones.

Those opposed to the WTO These include some 700 organisations from 73 countries and range from OXFAM, Friends of the Earth and the Japanese Consumers Union to networks in the Third World. They have signed a joint declaration to "oppose any effort to expand the powers of the WTO" saying that it worked to "prise open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of national economies, workers, farmers and other people".

Websites *World Trade Organization www.wto.org *Public Citizen‘s Global Trade Watch www.tradewatch.org *Greenpeace International www.greenpeace.org/~geneng/ * Nov. 30 Global day of action collective http://go.to/n30

Further info: ph (03) 548 7284 email: bdyer@prout.org.nz SAY NO TO WTO


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