YSF: Youth and Students! Fight and Defeat Imperialism!

Youth and Students: Junk WTO! Fight and Defeat Imperialism

BACKGROUND: WTO as the US Imperialist Machinery to Control International Trade

The World Trade Organization was institutionalized in January 1, 1995, succeeded General Tariffs and Trade. The main objective of WTO is the liberalization of economies to facilitate trade articulated by reduction to removal of all possible trade barriers in goods and services. Refusal and short of compliance is subjected to punitive measures decided in a corrupted Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM).

WTO could have been the triplet to the Bretton Woods twins IMF-WB. But because of the engagement of G77 (developing countries) and the formation of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the International Trade Organization with US mandates at its core, failed to be ratified by the US Congress wary of UN insertions and assertions. With the failure of ITO, GATT as the interim council that should have laid out conditions for the formation of the ITO served as the “rich man’s club” of US, UK and few other countries, dictating rules of trade in goods and tariffs.

The Uruguay Round of GATT (also known as the 8th Round) led to the formation of the WTO, with the impetus that international trade should not only focus on tariffs and trade in goods but should capture—services, investments and intellectual property rights, thus the need for a world trade organization that will oversee all four.

To date, WTO boasts of 159 member-states in less than 2-decades since its inception. It will hold its 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia determined to forge new agreements after it has reached an impasse after the Doha round in 2001. While this is attributable to impacts of people’s movements that relentlessly engaged the WTO, the challenge however, is to shove it to its defeat, to force an economic blow that will cripple and eventually debilitate the imperialist system.

THE BALI PACKAGE, INCLUDING PRE- AND POST- NEGOTIATIONS

There are three main issues on the negotiating table for BALI: The three main initially pose promising outcomes for developing and least developed countries. However, no matter how optimistic these proposals are, either these fall short in guaranteeing trade is meant to benefit their country or measures meant to intensify trade rules already in place.

(1)   Agriculture: Since the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) has been in place, it has been biased towards the economy of developed nations exemplified by high state subsidy of developed economies for food production, crop protection program, et al while placing a subsidy ceiling for developing economies thus limiting subsidy for domestic food production. With rules on tariff reductions in place, there is a surge of food and crop imports in developing economies that their domestic economy cannot compete with and at the same time, their exports to developed economies is incomparable to what they can already produce. In the upcoming MC9 (9th Ministerial Conference) G33 (46 countries advocating for food security, farmers’ livelihoods and rural development) proposes that subsidy programs for the poor in developing countries replicate the “Bolsa Familia” program implemented in Brazil that has effectively reduced hunger through food subsidies possible through exemptions from WTO subsidy limits.
Trade Facilitation: Proposals that envisions the maximization of profit through the efficacy of customs programs, trade route ports and airports. Developed countries have already modernized such facilities are thus imposing standards on how these should be improved without accompanying funding.

(2)   LDC: Composed of 33 African, 14 Asian countries, including Haiti, policies preferentially for Least Develop Countries were envisioned to assimilate these economies in the global trade and milk benefits for trade for their development. However, unfair relations in trade remain. Several proposals are to be forwarded in the MC9 that includes greater market access for LDC without tariff restrictions (duty-free quota free); allow LDCs to increase their exports (so-called simplified rules of origin); increase cotton competitiveness from LDC (thus, proposing for the decrease in subsidy for US cotton industry); and LDC services waiver soliciting better treatment to services and service providers from LDC.

(3)   The post-Bali Agenda: ISA, ITA, EGS, and GVCs

Contrary to its name the Post-Bali Agenda has been negotiated prior to conduct of the MC9. Initially negotiations have been opened as a side-meeting during the World Economic Forum in January 2013.

One of the agreements laid out for negotiations is the expansion of the scope of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), from 217 tariff lines to 357 tariff lines. This however will reduce developing economies as mere manufacturers of semiconductor wafers and cause the massive casualtization of its labor force. Negotiators also envision the expansion of the International Services Agreement (ISA), determined to liberalize 90% of the services sector and intensify the mode on the “movement of natural persons” or labor export of human capital. In guise of protecting the environment, negotiators are proposing zero tariffs for Environment Goods and Services (EGS) that vaguely identify products considered as EGS to include other goods that may enjoy the benefit. MC9 is also expected to discuss Global Value Chains (GVCs) or policies that would facilitate assembly or production of goods dispersed across borders and territories commonly marked by outsourcing in search of cheap labor, suppliers, raw materials etc.

 

In its entirety, the WTO is high-level forums for accommodations between and among already developed economies and at the same time, a systematized mechanism of soliciting the consent of the underdeveloped and developing economies into a grandiose ceremony of cooptation. It is also but an exposition of the intensifying desperation of imperialist economies reflected by its struggle to leech off of the economies of underdeveloped and middle class economies. Developed economies hasten their imminent death by increasing the number of the impoverished nations determined to fight back.

WREAKING HAVOC ON EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT AND EROSION OF NATIONALIST CULTURE

Youth and students are incessant victims of intensified liberalization and deregulation of trade and services. However, within the framework of WTO, they are affected most by agreement on GATS and ISA that threatens their right and accessibility to quality education. Similarly, with new policies on labor export infused and intensified under GATS, the free-flow of human capital not only affirms the commoditization of persons, but articulates the universal affront to humanity in the name of profit.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) & International Service Agreement: Because of the relentless engagements by developing countries GATS is said to be at an impasse for new and intensified agreements, thus ISA is being forwarded. The fundamental difference between the two is that the former gives developing countries options on which type of service they would like to liberalize, the latter however does not, with the vision of liberalizing 90% of the services sector of the world.

With talks of intensification, the massive deregulation and privatization of supposedly state-funded public services is imminent. Academic institutions thus face the threat of foreign ownership and private accumulation. Thus, there will be a greater assimilation to neoliberal ideas, market ideas and Western hegemony will overshadow the need for national industrialization and culture. With foreign and private ownership of academic institutions the curriculum will be oriented to satisfy the demands of the corporate agenda and produce massive labor force for market demands.

TRIPS:  Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). The TRIPs introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system. It requires all member countries to adhere to a set of strict set of rules that will protect intellectual property involved in international trade. Because of this agreement, students, academicians and other professional from underdeveloped and developing economies are restricted access to fundamental information, research and other resources that they can use to advance their endeavors. The Developed Countries have legal monopolies over information and have restricted access to these for their own advancement.

 

THE FIGHTING TASK OF YOUTH AND STUDENTS

While the youth and students are relentlessly being robbed of all prospects for a bright future, we should not resign to cowardice and misery; the youth should unite, fight and claim our future!

In the events leading to the crucial MC9, we should strengthen our unities with different schools including the administration to collectively denounce the growing privatization of our academic institutions. Likewise, the plight for democratic access to quality education should be rallied by the youth from the communities who may have resigned to labor because of the growing inaccessibility of tertiary labor, thus they compose the massive labor (and reserve) force of semi-skilled workers fit for labor export.

Likewise, youth and students should join arms with different sectors of the society who are in the same manner being victimized by systematized oppression through the different agreements forged and proposed to be negotiated in the WTO. Whether the masses work for the real economy or involved in services, they are being used and abused to the dearth of their own subsistence and welfare.

The youth should continuously expose and oppose prevalent budget cuts on education, health and other public services that are now up for privatization. The youth and students should regard November 17 (International Students Day) and November 18 (International Day against Privatization) as important dates to show the international, collective commitment of the youth to denounce and defeat the machinations of the world economic system under the whims and desires of few imperialist powers.

In a run up to Bali, massive propaganda education must be done to the biggest number of youth and students to make them aware, empowered and resolved to fight WTO and imperialism as a whole.

Youth and Students are ultimately encouraged to join and mobilize other individuals, groups, institutions and formations to the Youth Solidarity Festival (December 2) and the Peoples Global Camp (December 3-6) to build and strengthen solidarity, map out affirmative action plans against the WTO. Parallel activities and programs in different parts of the world are also encouraged from youth and students who cannot come in Bali for the engagement.

OUR UNITIES AND CALLS:

Junk WTO! Oppose Trade Liberalization

Fight and Defeat Imperialist Globalization!

Defend National Sovereignty!

Struggle for National Industrialization and Genuine Agrarian Reform

Make Trade Serve the People!

*taken from People’s Global Camp and Youth Solidarity Festival’s material.

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