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The Forum > Article Comments > WTO wrong to abandon core values > Comments

WTO wrong to abandon core values : Comments

By Alan Oxley, published 22/2/2005

Alan Oxley argues the WTO has lost its core mission by not demanding developing countries liberalise.

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I think it is naive to expect that ALL countries should liberalise when the US continues to use its grunt to dominate the agenda.
The US negotiating skills ensures they emerge from trade talks with agreements that can hardly be described as Fair.
FAIR That should be the operative word. It's because Developed Countries seek to penetrate foreign markets to improve the bottom line of their own balances of trade that is threatening "core values" The NAFTA is a one sided agreement in the US favour as is the Australian / US FTA where Australian negotiators were out gunned.
Under NAFTA, US corporations aggressively pursued the Canadian Government over Canadian bans on the import of MMT, a fuel additive on the grounds of public health. The Canadians were forced to reverse their ban and paid US$13 million in damages.
The US Metalclad Corp sued a Mexican municipality over it's refusal to allow the building of a hazardous waste facility on land already contaminated. It cost the Mexicans US$15.6 million
What concerns me is the prospect of our Government trading away essential services such as Health,Power, Water,Postal services.Telstra to name a few. We already have foreign investment in areas such as ages care.What's next? Child care ?
all for the sake of PROFIT at the expense of SERVICE.
Unfortunately, most of the negotiations are done secretly without open public scrutiny. Australians will wake up one morning to discover we don't own our own country.
Posted by maracas, Tuesday, 22 February 2005 9:00:56 PM
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WTO Hopes are Illusory
For quite another purpose, I recently wrote the following -
"One of the most interesting features of our trade with The Netherlands was the impact of fluctuations in the free-floating rate of exchange between the Australian dollar and the Dutch guilder. In "How to Become a Millionaire", I wrote, in 1990 -
"During my posting in The Hague from 1980 to 1984, the Australian dollar lost value against the guilder, so our exports tended to become cheaper in terms of the Dutch national currency. One consequence was that the Dutch began to drink noticeably more of our wine. Ambassadors always like to take credit for favourable trends, so I like to think that my steady promotion of Australian wine, whether at Embassy parties or further afield, caused our wine sales to increase.

"However, the real explanation was simple: the Dutch, like everyone else, like to get good wine at low prices. If a $A10 bottle of wine at the peak value of the Australian dollar I've given above cost a parsimonious Dutchman just over 32.50 guilders, at the bottom it cost him a mere 14 guilders - much less than half.
"There is a much larger issue here. When we had relatively stable monetary values, both domestic and international, between 1945 and 1970, exchange rates were less a determinant of trade flows than tariffs and other direct trade restraints. An IMF member was allowed to vary its exchange rate by only 10% without the Fund's clearance. That compares with fluctuations of 50% and more in the few years I've quoted above. If these fluctuations - and their trade impact - were to be translated into tariff rates or quantitative restrictions, the rise and fall in trade protection would be - and would be clearly seen to be - massive. They would be fluctuations that would presumably be outlawed under the rules of, for example, the World Trade Organisation.

James Cumes

"Uncle Rupert is beautifully narrated, with a wonderful sense of warmth and detail."
Order your copy from - or
Posted by Cumes, Monday, 28 February 2005 7:43:04 PM
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Alan Oxley speaks with forked tongue when he urges developing countries to "liberalise" trade. So-called "free" trade with developing countries is nothing more than nineteenth century colonial exploitation under another name.

A report by Larry Rohter yesterday in the New York Times on the latest Uruguayan election shows that millions of voters in Latin America have decided that they do not want any more "free" trade with the USA:

"Uruguay's shift consolidates what has become the new leftist consensus in South America. Three-quarters of the region's 355 million people are now governed by left-leaning leaders, all of whom have emerged in the past six years to redefine what the left means today...

"From Brazil to Argentina to Ecuador and Venezuela, while demonstrating important differences in style and substance, these new leaders are united in their conviction that the free-market reforms of the 1990's have failed and by a renewed focus on egalitarianism and social welfare, but not to the point where it breaks the bank...

"There is a growing consensus against the way the United States is using its power," said Marta Lagos, director of Latinobarómetro, a Chilean public opinion firm that regularly conducts surveys of political attitudes around the continent. "Ten years ago that was an attitude typical of the elite, but now we see it across the board, regardless of class or level of education."...
Posted by grace pettigrew, Wednesday, 2 March 2005 8:07:49 PM
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