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GATT Watchdog Announces Anti-WTO Campaign

Programme of Action Against November WTO Meetings Announced - GATT Watchdog

GATT Watchdog will mount a campaign of active opposition to the World Trade Organisation and a new round of negotiations leading up to the November 9-13th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Doha, Qatar.

GATT Watchdog is calling for a National Day of Action against the WTO on Friday 9 November.

"The venue for the WTO Ministerial may well preclude mass mobilisations outside the meetings as in Seattle. But like many of our sister organisations around the world, we are taking the issues and action back into our communities and out onto the streets", said GATT Watchdog spokesman, Aziz Choudry.

"External pressure from the growing opposition to corporate globalisation and the many internal conflicts among its 141 members are taking a heavy toll on the WTO. After the Seattle debacle, many see its credibility depending on the launch of a new round."

"New Zealand continues to put itself at the extreme end of trade and investment liberalisation in the positions the government takes in international agreements. The WTO promotes the same kinds of free market policies which the Labour-led government was elected to reject, and which once again puts the interests of big business before people. The government should declare a moratorium on negotiating any further trade and investment agreements instead of clinging to a discredited free market ideology."

"Meanwhile self-styled champions of the poor like Mike Moore and his former buddies in the Clark government claim that the best way for the lot of the world's poorest countries to improve is through further trade and investment liberalisation and the launch of a new round of trade negotiations. They are deaf dumb and blind to the fact that only last week, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), meeting in Zanzibar clearly stated their united opposition to a new round of WTO negotiations. Many Third World governments have consistently sought a review of existing WTO commitments and unfair arrangements as they question the benefits of free trade."

"Our campaign aims to support the growing opposition to the WTO and genuine debate about why New Zealand is damaging itself in getting into further commitments. This debate will occur whether or not the government listens, and in spite of a cynical charm offensive which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and big business (through the Trade Liberalisation Network) are carrying out to try to stave off domestic opposition."

"Recently, we have seen the same officials and politicians who boast of unprecedented levels of "consultation" and "dialogue" with the public, openly disregard principled and outright opposition to the Singapore and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership agreements, and make public speeches which show an unswerving commitment to concluding these agreements come hell or high water."

"Earlier this week, the government claimed it would "consult" widely on its position on the WTO. Such consultation is likely to be a farce, little more than an exercise in manufacturing consent and dismissing dissent while attempting to make people feel that their voices have been heard. It is like asking people to name their poison rather than giving them a choice whether they should be poisoned at all."

"New Zealand's free trade cheerleaders are still searching desperately for new ways to sell free trade and investment to a public grown cynical of wild unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of throwing open the economy to the vagaries of the market, dominated by global big business. But fewer people are believing the hype."

Ends


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