FREE TRADE ENDANGERS JOBS WORLDWIDE

By Attac Austria

[This article published 11/28/2005 on the Attac Austria web site is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.attac.at/2288.98.html.]


EXPERTS FROM THE SOUTH AND NORTH WARN OF INCREASED WORLDWIDE UNEMPLOYMENT AND DESTRUCTION OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE


At a press conference in Vienna, the Brazilian CUT-unionist Gonzalo Berron warned of a further liberalization of world trade. In threshold countries like Brazil, trade liberalization will only benefit a minority and produce a great majority of losers as Mexico’s experiences in NAFTA showed. “Brazil’s liberalization gains will only benefit a few agricultural corporations while jobs in the industrial- and service sectors will be destroyed. Small-scale agriculture will not hold its ground to the competitive pressure,” the unionist said. In addition, a deterioration of the access of broad sectors of the population to essentials like health care, water and education is expected.

Wolfgang Greif, international secretary of the GPA, urged binding social- and labor standards within the rules of world trade. A formal cooperation between the ILO and the WTO must be established to reach this goal. At present the ILO does not even have observer status. Greif repeated the OGB demand for a moratorium in the GATS negotiations.

“Greater tariff reductions and market opening threaten the existence of around two billion people who work mainly in small-scale agricultural enterprises or live self-sufficiently,” explains Alexandra Strickner from the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy (IATP) in Geneva. Free trade in agriculture means export orientation and mass production of food instead of giving priority to food security and qualitatively high-grade regional food production. Strickner emphasizes the r4ight of countries to protect agricultural production for feeding their own populations, price- and quantity regulations of raw material markets and reduction of market concentration in the whole food chain.

“The WTO and free trade have not kept their promises. Unemployment and poverty increases worldwide while economic growth becomes ever slower with increasing liberalization,” Franziskus Forster of Attac Austria said. Free trade does not lead to the broad prosperity on all sides but endangers the majority of workers, crafts persons, traders, farmers, fishers and indigenous populations. The corporations are the winners. They profit from wage dumping and uncontrolled exploitation of nature. “The governments must take free trade off the agenda and adopt a sustainable way of development according to the model of fair trade, “ Forster urged in closing.