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Fair Trade Group Targets WTO with "Secret Weapon":

Fair Trade Group Targets WTO with "Secret Weapon": Mike Moore

GATT Watchdog will stage a "reception" for World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Mike Moore, from 11.30am-2pm on Monday (14 August) outside the Centra Hotel, Cashel St, Christchurch where he will address a luncheon hosted by the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce.

"Mr Moore will receive the Order of New Zealand in Wellington tomorrow. But GATT Watchdog will give him an award of our own on Monday for his work as our secret weapon destroying the WTO from inside" said a spokesman for the group which has campaigned against the GATT/WTO since 1990.

"Mike Moore sits at the extreme end of the ideological spectrum about free trade and investment. Moore's first few months as figurehead of the WTO have been very helpful in advancing our own goal of delegitimising and dismantling the WTO and other forums which promote market models of economic development as the only alternative. Moore's adherence to discredited failed economic theories regardless of their consequences, and his patronising attitude towards any who question the supposed virtues of free trade are precisely the kind of qualities that will ensure that divisions within the WTO grow wider.

"There is growing opposition to the global free market economy from peoples' movements, as protests in Seattle showed. But equally significant is the fact that many poorer countries which comprise the majority of the WTO's 136 members have become more and more frustrated and marginalised by unfair trade agreements which have proved impossible to implement and which richer countries have manipulated to their advantage. The WTO is dominated by the "Quad" of powerful governments - the USA, Japan, the EU, and Canada which then try to impose their decisions on other WTO members. Calls by Third World governments for a thorough assessment of the outcomes of existing trade and investment agreements, and their opposition to any new agreements have been ignored.

"Mike Moore masquerades as champion of the little people and an advocate for small nations at the WTO. The stark reality is that the multilateral trade framework under the WTO stands for protection for the powerful - companies and countries - and market discipline, regardless of the costs, for the rest.

"In June, the ILO World Labour Report 2000 showed that increasing trade liberalisation and the effects of globalisation have resulted in job losses and less secure work arrangements in both industrialised and Third World nations. Successive New Zealand governments have consigned tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs to the dustbin in the name of free trade, including many in Canterbury.

"Last month, in Geneva, a group of 11 developing countries told the WTO's Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture that the trade liberalisation triggered by the Uruguay Round of the GATT (which established the WTO) had broken the agricultural backbone in many developing-country economies, undermining food security, peoples' health, and sovereignty.

"Because of the breakdown of multilateral trade negotiations since the failure of the Seattle WTO Ministerial to kick off a new round of global trade talks, the Government is forced to secretively try to stitch up regional free trade agreements piece-by-piece through bilateral deals like the controversial "closer economic partnership" with Singapore.

"Big business - especially the transnational corporations which dominate the global economy - continues to try to shape global economic policy-making via privileged access to trade negotiators. In the lead up to Seattle, New Zealand's chief trade negotiator said: "We very much want to ensure that New Zealand's approach to the [WTO] negotiations is dictated by the business sector's trading needs and priorities". The WTO system also helps governments to reinforce domestic economic reforms. The human havoc caused by 15 years of market reforms and the reckless throwing open of the New Zealand economy makes claims that what is good for big business is good for all of us look naive and illogical.

"Mike Moore's views about trade and economics and the mythical free market belong on the Lord of the Rings set with the hobbits - not in the real world."

For further comment contact: Murray Horton (03) 3663988


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