Press release | 7 February 2008
EMBARGOED: 01:00 GMT THURSDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2008
FIGHTING FTAS: NEW PUBLICATION AND WEBSITE ON RESISTANCE TO BILATERAL FREE TRADE AND INVESTMENT AGREEMENTS LAUNCHED
bilaterals.org, GRAIN and BIOTHAI are today launching a collaborative publication, "Fighting FTAs: The growing resistance to bilateral free trade and investment agreements". While global trade talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) stagnate, governments and corporations are busy spinning a complex web of bilateral free trade and investment agreements (FTAs). "Fighting FTAs" looks at what this FTA frenzy is really about, how social movements are fighting back and strategic learnings emerging from these struggles.
FTAs are powerful weapons of neoliberal globalisation that go much further than WTO agreements. Through these secretive deals, states and corporations are trying to divide and conquer the world, creating vast new privileges for transnational corporations. Typically, FTAs cover a broad array of issues, from giving corporations the right to sue governments, to legalising the dumping of American farm surpluses, to raising the cost of life-saving medicines through longer patent terms. FTAs further concentrate economic power and natural resources in the hands of a few, disempower communities, destroy biodiversity and undermine food sovereignty. And each concession made through an FTA becomes a benchmark for further deals.
FTAs are not just trade deals, though. They are important foreign policy tools to advance governments’ geopolitical interests. The US, for example, explicitly links its FTAs to the so-called "war on terror". The EU, China and Japan and others also combine economic and political agendas through these agreements.
Small farmers, workers, people living with HIV/AIDS, indigenous peoples and many others have been under attack from FTAs and bilateral investment deals ever since the North America Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1992. But together with many other social sectors, they have been fighting back. From Australia to Colombia, and from Morocco to Korea, massive popular struggles to defeat FTAs have been waged by grassroots movements, often met with fierce repression. Today, as FTAs continue to mushroom, people’s resistance is growing.
It can be hard to get an overall view of what all these FTAs mean. And because these deals are often bilateral ones, many resistance struggles are carried out at the national level, which can make it difficult to link forces across borders. "Fighting FTAs" aims to help to overcome these hurdles and facilitate more sharing and learning from the diverse movements against FTAs worldwide.
"Fighting FTAs" is a collaborative effort of many people involved in these struggles on the ground. To accompany the publication, a dedicated website is available with additional texts, audio interviews, photos from the struggles, anti-FTA films and other resources.
"Fighting FTAs: The growing resistance to bilateral free trade and investment agreements", bilaterals.org, BIOTHAI and GRAIN (editors), 102 pages, February 2008. Available in English, French, Spanish and soon Thai. Online at http://www.fightingftas.org. Hard copies available on request from [email protected]. Groups are free to reproduce and translate the material.
MEDIA INTERESTED IN THIS RELEASE MAY CONTACT (PHONE OR SMS UNTIL 15 FEBRUARY 2008)
Aziz Choudry (bilaterals.org) in Montreal, Canada: +1 514 7707488 (Cell) or webteam[at]bilaterals.org
Witoon Lianchamroon (BIOTHAI) in Bangkok, Thailand: +66 894497330 (Cell) or witoon[at]biothai.net
Alexis Vaughan (GRAIN) in United Kingdom: +44 7969561208 (Cell) or alexis[at]grain.org