A Call to Action to Stop RCEP, TPP, TTIP, CETA, TiSA and EPAs!
The world’s people have long been subject to ever-worsening poverty and injustice – from the erosion of labor protection measures across the globe, the continued privatization of key sectors of the economy, to the rampant dispossession and displacement of peasants, farmers and indigenous communities from their lands. The unrelenting depression of the global economy has pushed millions of workers to leave their home country in pursuit of greener pasture elsewhere; women continue to suffer miserable wages, landlessness, and hunger atop of discrimination and violence as the world’s youth are perpetually deprived of free and accessible education and decent employment. But the worst is still yet to come.
The dire conditions of the world’s poor and marginalized are all set to intensify once the torrent of mega-regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) become finalized and enforced across different regions of the globe. The consecutive failures of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the past years have prompted a renewed focus on bilateral and regional FTAs revealing no less than a system in chronic crisis. In a desperate bid to salvage itself from this crisis, monopoly capital is now turning to mega-FTAs such as the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) accounting roughly up to 38% and 40% of the global economy, respectively. In Europe, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU represents 19% of the world’s economic pie while the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will cover almost half of the global GDP. The US and EU-led Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) on the other hand binds 50 countries towards liberalizing global trades in services such as banking, health care and transport. In Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, numerous EU-led Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) continue to rise.
The depth and range of these trade pacts is striking – covering more than just trade, undercutting worker rights, dismantling labor, environmental, health, and financial laws while boosting corporate profit and control. These facts show how rich industrialized countries and global corporate elites are dividing the world across politico-economic lines while unveiling the insatiable hunger of corporations to amass more profit, and consolidate transnational corporate control over labor and natural resources.
Governments negotiate these trade deals in behalf of corporate and elite interests in their countries. As such, these trade deals favor TNCs from the most powerful and wealthy countries – including an investment clause that allows corporations to sue governments for laws and policies that are perceived harmful to corporate profits. Previously signed mega-regional FTAs such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) blatantly favored investor interests to the extent that corporations easily challenged laws that were meant to protect public welfare and interest, including providing a living wage, implementing agrarian reform, ensuring health and safety of the public from hazards, sound environmental policies, and so on.
Past treaties have also forced workers to compete for what remains of desperate and low-wage labor around the world. In 1994, when the NAFTA was signed between Canada, United States and Mexico, economists and US officials predicted the generation of hundreds of thousands of jobs due to a supposed growth in trade surplus with Mexico. The result however has led to 682,900 American jobs lost and the displacement of over one million Mexican campesino farmers not to mention wage depression, labor flexibilization, and increased forced migration.
Beyond investment protection, FTA standards on intellectual property rights have severely restricted the use of patented seeds and plant varieties threatening local peasant and indigenous farming practices as well as their access to seeds. In addition, these FTAs intend to further extend medicine patent rights thus enabling big pharmaceutical companies to monopolize the drug market and keep charging high prices without the competition of generic alternatives.
Indeed, these corporate-backed trade agreements cover an expansive and increasingly worrying array of areas and issues which multiply impacts across sectors and communities, and provoke wide-ranging resistance in many countries.
In Europe, the movement to defeat TTIP and CETA has reached massive proportions over the past few years with thousands marching in the streets to oppose austerity, poverty and the onslaught of FTAs. At the same time, African governments and people’s organizations are rising up against EPAs that continue to exploit the continent’s rich natural resources and cheap labor. In North America, Latin America and the Asia Pacific, people are organizing to defeat the RCEP and TPPA. People across the globe are coming together like never before in a concerted escalation to stop the corporate takeover of the world and build a people’s movement against FTAs and corporate plunder.
We, peoples movements and civil society organisations, trade unions, farmers and grassroots activists from across the globe stand united in opposing RCEP, TPP, TTIP, CETA, and EPAs. These sinister trade deals threaten our democracy, our jobs, our lands, and our lives.
But we shall not let this pass. As attacks against our rights become ever more acute, so shall our collective resistance. We demand no less than living wages for workers, land to the tillers, and access to free and accessible medicines, public health care and education. We shall fight for a pro-people trading system that is forged along the principles of solidarity, cooperation and complementarity among nations. A system that recognizes and upholds people’s sovereignty and people’s rights; premised on friendship and peaceful co-existence, and directs the accountability of States and the private sector to the people – a world trade order that responds to people’s needs, not to corporate elites. ###
People over Profit! Stop RCEP, TPP, TTIP, and CETA! Fight FTAs!
People Over Profit is a global network of people’s movements and NGOs campaigning against FTAs and corporate plunder.
Secretariat: Asia Pacific Research Network | 275 E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines | Email us at [email protected]