THIRD WORLD RESURGENCE #182/183 (Oct/Nov 2005)
This issue’s contents:
By Martin Khor
In recent years, there has been a growing tendency for many developing countries, both individually and in groups, to enter into free trade agreements (FTAs) with developed countries. Experience has shown that such bilateral agreements are not necessarily the best option for developing countries as under these agreements, developed countries are better placed to wrest concessions which developing countries would not make in multilateral trade forums such as the WTO. In warning of the serious development policy implications of such FTAs, Martin Khor urges the need for a proper policy framework and a proper assessment of costs and benefits before embarking on such enterprises.
By Martin Khor
In this article, Martin Khor highlights some of the sectors and spheres of developing-country economies which developed countries seek to restructure to their advantage by means of FTAs, and discusses the developmental costs of acceding to such asymmetrical agreements.
Despite their pitfalls and disadvantages, why are so many developing countries so eager to enter into asymmetric North-South FTAs? This extract from a UN study seeks to explain this curious phenomenon.
By Goh Chien Yen
The proliferation of FTAs between developing and developed countries has been accompanied by the phenomenal growth of international investment agreements. In some cases, the key provisions of such investment agreements have been incorporated into FTAs themselves. Goh Chien Yen considers the risks and dangers for developing countries of some of the provisions of these investment agreements, particularly those dealing with expropriation.
By Martin Khor
Government procurement is one of the key negotiating issues in many bilateral FTAs involving a developed and a developing country or developing countries. It is also an issue which has very serious social, economic and developmental implications for developing countries. Martin Khor considers the implications of such FTAs by analysing the typical US-designed FTA with developing countries.
By Laura Carlsen
As the developing-country partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Canada, Mexico's decade-long experience has major lessons for other nations negotiating FTAs. In this evaluation of an agreement which its promoters claimed would usher Mexico into the First World, Laura Carlsen reveals the huge chasm between promise and reality.
By Michael Frein & Klaus Schilder
At the Cancun summit in 2003, newly industrialising and developing nations successfully resisted the pressure to start multilateral talks on new commitments to protect investments. Consequently, the big economic powers are pursuing their trade policy goals in bilateral negotiations. The European Union is adopting much the same stance in this area as the United States.
By Humberto Campodonico
Among the FTAs now on the negotiating table is a proposed accord between the US and the Andean states of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Like other such North-South treaties, the Andean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) has provoked concerns over its likely adverse impact on the developing-country parties. In this context, the current impasse in the AFTA talks provides Andean citizen groups with an opportunity to further mobilise public opposition to the agreement.
By Marcela Valente
President Bush suffered a humiliating defeat at the fourth Summit of the Americas held in Argentina when his push for a free trade area embracing the whole of the Americas failed to secure a consensus.
An Asian Regional Workshop on Bilateral Free Trade Agreements was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 26-28 August 2005. It was organised by the Third World Network and attended by about 120 participants from many Asian countries and resource persons from international and regional agencies. We publish the main recommendations on specific aspects of FTAs expressed by participants during the Workshop.
Wait for ruin or embrace opportunity?
By Red Constantino
If national security is high on the agenda of the Philippine government, says Red Constantino, then it is high time that the authorities took steps to meet the greatest threat facing the nation - climate change.
By Ma Jun
China's record-breaking dam-building boom could make free-flowing rivers an
endangered species, says a Chinese activist.
Mexico: Tobacco companies accused of bribing legislators
By Diego Cevallos
The disreputable record of foreign tobacco companies in Mexico has been further tarnished by accusations, levelled by members of the Mexican Congress, of bribing lawmakers and doctoring figures to prevent tax hikes.
Farm subsidies: The report card
By Devinder Sharma
The subsidies provided by the governments of the rich countries to their farmers have been a major contentious issue in trade talks, particularly at the WTO. Devinder Sharma contends that the real beneficiaries of such farm subsidies have been agri-business companies and rich farmers rather than small farmers.
The Amman massacre
By Azmi Bishara
The atrocities in Amman are not only testament to the bankruptcy of the war on terror, but indications of the deep rifts which have grown in the Third World as a result of neoliberal ideologies run amok, writes Azmi Bishara.
By Dahr Jamail
After earlier strenuous denials, the US has now admitted that its troops used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against Iraqis during the assault against Fallujah a year ago. Dahr Jamail, who was one of the few journalists who reported the use of such chemical weapons when the assault on the Iraqi town took place in November 2004, wonders how long more it will take for other US atrocities in Iraq to come to light.
By Benjamin Dangl
The US government is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to intervene in Latin America in order to destabilise existing progressive regimes and prevent the emergence of others seeking social change.
In Guatemala, identity fostered by the indigenous language, locality and culture is far more relevant to many of its citizens than the symbols and substance of nationhood. The following article considers whether, after 184 years of existence, the Guatemalan state can really now transform itself into a relevant benchmark for many people within its borders in an era when, as a result of globalisation, the defining role of the state is in crisis.
Systematic psychological torture by US forces in the 'war on terror'
Since the Abu Ghraib scandal broke more than a year ago, the physical abuse of detainees through beatings, use of stress positions, deprivation of food, and infliction of severely cold and hot temperatures, has understandably gained the most attention, and the United States Army has itself labelled the deaths of 26 detainees as homicides. However, as this extract from a report by Physicians for Human Rights shows, physical forms of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment served only to punctuate the pervasive use of psychological torture by US personnel against detainees.
Hasta siempre Gladys
By Rosemary Barbera
The youngest person to be elected to the Chilean Congress, the first woman to run for the country's presidency, and the only female leader of a Chilean political party, the late Gladys Marin Millie was a role model for the women of the continent. Rosemary Barbera pays tribute to this indefatigable fighter for human rights and social justice.
New UNESCO cultural diversity treaty aims to battle global conformity
By Kalinga Seneviratne
Despite strong US objections, delegates at UNESCO's General Conference in October adopted the first international treaty designed to protect local movies, music and other cultural treasures from being swamped by foreign competition.
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