Tag Archive for: wto

Media Release
Dec 1, 2017

Civil society slams Argentina’s repression of peoples’ voice at the WTO conference in Buenos Aires

Global civil society network People Over Profit (POP) condemns the arbitrary last minute decision of the Argentine government to bar more than 60 civil society and peoples’ organizations from next week’s 11th World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Buenos Aires. The decision is unprecedented in recent history of WTO.

Civil society representatives from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America including People Over Profit had their approved WTO accreditation revoked for reasons undisclosed by the Argentine government. Argentinian officials have yet to explain the basis for the revocation.

“That the WTO is being hosted by the neoliberal regime of President Mauricio Macri and that peoples’ movements from around the world are being prevented from the summit indicate for us that pro-big business agenda is set to overrun the WTO negotiations in Buenos Aires”, says Ivan Enrile of People Over Profit.

“WTO is skewed towards rich countries and against poor and underdeveloped countries. Transnational business groups exert heavy influence on policies and negotiations, while peoples’ movements are marginalized and excluded. Our voice is important in countering the WTO’s built-in bias against democratic participation. And yet, even this very minimal space is being taken away from the people”, adds Kurniawan Sabar of Institute for National and Democratic Studies, Indonesia.

People Over Profit warns that the repressive action of the Argentinian government serves the interest of transnational corporations to make the WTO a perfect venue for business and governments to pursue new agendas that would otherwise fail in open democratic forums.

“Current proposals in the WTO such as those on e-commerce, domestic regulation disciplines, and agriculture and fisheries subsidies elimination pose great threats to peoples’ rights and to poor and underdeveloped countries’ sovereignty and development. We stand firmly against moves that will further expand the corporate sellout of the world and our future”, says Leonida Odongo of FAHAMU Africa.

People Over Profit calls on civil society and peoples’ organizations to protest the decision of the Argentinian government and invites them to join protest actions around the world against WTO.

“The government of Argentina may prevent us from coming to Buenos Aires for the WTO summit, but they won’t stop us from organizing and mobilizing our local communities to expose and oppose the WTO for what it truly is: a supreme instrument for imperialist globalization,” says Enrile. ###

About People Over Profit
People Over Profit is a global campaign network that unites peoples movements and NGOs across the globe against free trade agreements and corporate plunder. Its members encompass all global regions.

Website: www.peopleoverprofit.online
Facebook: fb.com/peoplevsftas
Twitter:: @peoplevsftas


Ivan Phell Enrile
[email protected]
Campaign Coordinator
People Over Profit
3rd Floor, 114 Timog Avenue
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
(632) 927-7060 loc 202

More than 80 representatives from trade unions, peasant communities, indigenous peoples, health networks, and women’s organisations met on 27-28 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to strategize around how to defeat the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other emerging mega-regional free trade agreements (FTAs) in the region.

The RCEP is considered one of the largest trade deals in the world covering half of the world’s population and almost 40% of the global economy. It is set to be finalized by 2017 and is currently being negotiated among 16 member states including all 10 ASEAN countries and 6 of its major trading partners (China, India, New Zealand, Australia and South Korea).

‘Beyond Investment Protection’

With negotiations held in secret, the little that is publicly known about the RCEP comes from recent draft texts. “While corporate lobbies are invited to advise government officials, ordinary citizens who will live with the consequences have no say whatsoever,” said Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

The leaked texts reveal that RCEP deals with more than just trade – a large portion of the agreement is designed to give rich countries and their corporations the power to delve into non-trade issues such as investment and intellectual property while diminishing the right of states to regulate in the name of public interest. “These so-called ‘investment protection measures’ in RCEP and other FTAs in the offing are already beyond mere protection of investor interests. It is increasingly becoming deliberate attacks on people’s rights and sovereignty driven by the capitalist thirst for profit and control,” said Marjorie Pamintuan, General Secretary of the Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN).

Included in the RCEP investment chapter are provisions on the notorious Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – an investor-state arbitration system that allows corporations to sue states over actions detrimental to expected future profits. Currently, there are 696 known ISDS cases filed by corporations against 107 countries and the numbers are rapidly increasing. These cases broadly interpret investor rights to the extent that corporations can easily challenge state policies that are meant to protect public welfare, including providing a living wage, implementing agrarian reform, ensuring health and safety of the public from hazards, sound environmental policies, and so on.

Peoples Rights under Attack

The currently negotiated RCEP will impact 3.5 billion people including those in least developed countries and its most vulnerable sectors. “The RCEP favors rich countries and their corporations, not peasants and the poor. RCEP will facilitate intensified land grabbing and allow corporate monopoly control over seeds further depriving peasants and small farmers their right to land and food security,” said Rhoda Gueta of the Asian Peasant Coalition.

Based on the leaked chapter on intellectual property rights, Japan and Korea are pushing for RCEP member countries to join the UPOV 1991 (International Convention for the Protection of new Varieties of Plants). The UPOV 1991 is a set of common standards that impose rules on how countries should implement plant variety protection – a scheme that favors seed companies at the expense of farmer’s rights to seed. Another proposal aims to criminalize seed saving by imposing criminal sanctions for carrying seeds across borders without due authorization from patent rights holders.

The leaked chapter on IP also reveals that South Korea and Japan are pushing for provisions on data exclusivity and extended patent rights that would allow big pharmaceutical companies to monopolize the drug market and keep charging high prices without generic competition. This becomes a grave concern for the region especially with India being the world’s largest producer of cheap, life-saving medicines. Once RCEP is enforced, access to affordable medicines for the world’s poorest people will be seriously compromised.


During the strategy meeting, participants discussed the implications of RCEP on people’s rights as well as how it differs from other mega –FTAs such as the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). “ASEAN is pushing the corporate agenda through RCEP. Countries part of the TPP are using RCEP to push US-designed ‘WTO-plus’ provisions onto the remaining RCEP members which will only perpetuate inequalities,” said Joan Salvador from GABRIELA, a national alliance of women in the Philippines.

While RCEP is largely considered as a ‘subtler’ version of the TPP by providing lesser demands for liberalization, the China-led trade deal contains intellectual property provisions that are even worse than the TPP and the WTO by extending patent rights beyond domestic laws and international norms.

“The RCEP and the TPP are both extensions of the WTO framework – designed to concentrate wealth at the hands of global corporate elites,” said Beverly Longid from the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL). “Neither the US-led TPP nor the China-led RCEP will address the long-standing demand for an international trading system that responds to people’s needs,” she added.###

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional trade deal that covers half of the world’s population, 38% of the world economy and nearly 30% of the world’s trade volume. The 16-nation RCEP negotiations formally began in 2013 comprised of the 10 ASEAN Member states at its core along with 6 of its major trading partners (China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, India).With the rapid growth of China, India and Indonesia’s economies however, the combined GDP of RCEP member countries can potentially amount to double the size of TPP economies by 2050.

Often referred to as a “trade” pact, the RCEP deals with more than just trade – a large portion of the agreement will give rich countries and their corporations power to delve into non-trade issues that have far-reaching implications across sectors and communities. Covering half of the world’s population and containing provisions that are even worse than the TPP and the WTO, the impact of this mammoth trade deal on the environment, labor, agriculture, investment, intellectual property, etc. will be nothing like we’ve ever seen before.

APRN_RCEP Infographic

APRN fourth 2013


This issue contains news from network members from October to December 2013 . It also contains updates and declarations on the recently concluded WTO Bali Ministerial and COP 19 of the UNFCCC.