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					         TIME TO MAKE TRADE FAIR IN 2003

International trade can be a powerful engine for poverty reduction. However, world trade
rules are loaded against people struggling to overcome poverty. Despite the huge expansion
of international trade and foreign direct investment within the global economy, the benefits
are not equally distributed between the rich and the poor, be they countries, regions or

Indeed the most vulnerable members of society are increasingly marginalised and locked
out of the benefits of trade. In fact, global trade rules contribute to the violation of one of
most essential human rights: the right of every individual to a sustainable livelihood and
secure employment. For instance, food security, the basis of human survival, is increasingly
undermined by trade rules that hurt the livelihoods of millions of small farming families.

The problem is that rich countries have fixed international trade rules in favour of their
narrow commercial interests and those of their largest corporations at the expense of poor
people and countries, and the wider public interest. Corporations also affect the ability of
excluded people and marginalised countries to benefit from trade through their employment
and investment practices and through their profit-driven influence on domestic, regional
and multilateral trade and investment rule making.

Oxfam believes that trade, in tandem with other economic and social development
strategies, can be made to work for everybody. Trade should not be seen as an end in itself
but should be orientated towards ensuring sustainable development, the achievement of the
2015 poverty reduction targets, and adherence to internationally agreed human rights

The World Social Forum is a very important occasion for all of the movements in favour of
genuine change to share experiences, co-strategize and unite around reform of the world
trade agenda in 2003.

Oxfam is actively involved in many of the week’s activities. We will participate in the
Panel discussion on the WTO and the road to Cancun and seminars on GATS and public
services, the FTAA, Investment, HIV/ AIDS and gender and trade. Oxfam and the Global
Alliance on Coffee and Commodities will host a Workshop to share with allies’ ideas and
analysis about the global coffee crisis. We also have a full program of meetings with
movements and organizations’ working on trade and development.


In November 2001, all WTO members pledged to put development at the heart of the new
negotiations launched in Doha. Unfortunately, to date, rich countries have comprehensively
broken this promise.

The industrialized countries are pressuring developing-country governments to make new
tariff concessions in agriculture, services and industrial products, and to further open and
deregulate their markets through new WTO agreements on investment and government
procurement. At the same time, the rich-world governments block progress on issues of
great importance to developing countries such as TRIPs and public health or agricultural
subsidies. Moreover they refuse to adapt WTO rules to the special needs of developing
countries, which need much greater freedom to manage trade policy and regulate markets in
pursuit of development goals.

In Cancun, civil society organisations need to make their voice heard to denounce such
double standards and push for a pro-development trade agenda.

To mobilise supporters of change beyond the existing circle of activists we need to
demonstrate to the greater public and to mass media how unfair trade rules affect daily
lives. Oxfam’s strategy to reach ordinary people and initiate change is to focus on hard-
hitting tangible problems that illustrate broader ‘structural’ issues. This is why we work on
TRIPs and health – an issue which starkly exemplifies the lethal impact of unfair trade
rules. This is also why we focus on agricultural dumping – an issue which highlights how
the rules governing world agricultural trade lead directly to the destruction of livelihoods in
the developing world.

Moreover, our campaigns include short-term winnable goals in order to build confidence
among supporters and activists, and maintain the political momentum for bigger changes.
The challenge is to undermine anti-development economic liberalism among rich countries
and international financial institutions, while encouraging a critical mass of developing-
country governments to support genuine change both at the domestic and international

Such change in world politics can only occur if there is a global movement—North and
South-- in favour of pro-poor trade rules uniting NGOs, grassroots associations, trade
unions, consumer groups, environmentalists, women’s groups and others. Therefore,
Oxfam considers that partnerships and collaboration with other networks and groups, which
share the same core objective of sustainable and equitable development, are absolutely

We believe that a movement for international trade justice, provided it mobilises people in
the North and South, can reverse the current trend and oblige governments to deliver on
their promises to make trade fair. The Cancun Ministerial in September 2003 will provide a
crucial opportunity for such a movement to stop further expansion of the WTO mandate
and to propose alternatives for fairer trade.

The 2001 Doha Declaration, in which WTO member states clearly affirmed the primacy of
public health over patent rules and commercial interests, to the great discomfort of the
pharmaceutical industry, shows that public opinion can influence outcomes to the benefit of
poverty reduction, sustainable development and human rights.

Oxfam will prioritise three issues in the run-up to Cancun: ending dumping by rich
countries, stopping the proposed extension of the WTO liberalising mandate into
investment, competition and government procurement, and reforming the TRIPS

Stop the dumping!
The EU and US continue to shamelessly dump highly subsidized agricultural products on
world markets, destroying the livelihoods of millions of farmers who are already among the
poorest in the world. The agricultural sector is crucial for the survival of 900 million people
who live on less than $1 a day in the rural areas of the developing world. Poor rice farmers
in Haiti, dairy producers in Kenya and cotton farmers in West Africa have all been victims
of this heartless policy.

Negotiations for a new agricultural agreement at the WTO are now reaching a critical stage.
The EU and US are fighting to maintain their right to subsidize their agricultural sector to
the tune of $1 billion a day, while pushing for greater access into key developing markets
such as India and China.

Agricultural dumping into the developing world must be effectively eliminated by major
reform of the subsidy practices of rich countries. As a principle, subsidies should not harm
the agricultural sector of any developing country. Moreover, subsidies should be redesigned
to genuinely pursue domestic goals of greater social equity, rural development and
environmental protection, rather than to defend agro-business exports and profits. Finally,
developing countries must be given the flexibility to increase their tariffs to protect
themselves from dumping or to pursue food security or rural development goals.

No to the TNC bill of rights!
Under the guise of the need for transparency, developed countries are pushing developing
countries into putting investment, competition, government purchasing and trade

facilitation on the WTO negotiation agenda – subjects known as the ‘new issues’ in WTO

Industrialised countries and TNCs are forcing poor countries into accepting multilateral
investment rules they don’t need and cannot afford. These rules will put a straitjacket on
developing-country governments, making it impossible for them to implement the national
development strategies that the rich countries themselves used to industrialise. Similar rules
are also being pushed through the FTAA and the WTO negotiations on services. Their
impact will be to maximize TNC rights and profits at the expense of local communities,
local companies and sustainable development.

               WTO rules could include:
                  the right of foreign companies to invest in any sector,
                  the obligation for the state to give foreign companies the same
                    treatment as domestic companies, including in the case of essential
                  a ban on regulatory measures requiring foreign investors to use local
                    inputs, provide technology transfer or limit profit repatriation,
                  the right for foreign companies to sue countries for any law or
                    regulation that hinders their future profits (indirect expropriation),
                  opaque arbitration or judicial mechanisms that favour rights of
                    investors rather the public interest.

For instance, the right for local communities to say no to foreign investment projects
destroying their land and culture, successfully exercised by the Shuar people in Ecuador in
1999, would be further undermined.

Oxfam will support developing countries, such as India and China who currently oppose
the launch of negotiations on the new issues. If a small group of developing countries
manage to stand firm, despite against the intense pressure that will come from the rich
countries, particularly the EU, the negotiations cannot proceed.

Access to affordable medicines for all!
The Doha declaration on TRIPs and public health was a clear victory, but the US as well as
the EU and other developed countries are now backtracking on their commitment to change
TRIPS to allow export of generic medicines to countries in need. We need to ensure that
sick people in Africa, Latin America and Asia will be able to buy cheap generic medicines
to treat major killer diseases such as AIDs, pneumonia, diarrhoea, cancer or heart disease
which cause millions of deaths every year in the developing world.

Oxfam and many other NGOs are demanding a permanent change that will be legally
secure, cover all diseases and all countries in need, and be easy to operate. The Doha
promise was to resolve this issue by the end of 2002. The delays and the attempted
rewriting of the declaration by the US and others endanger the lives of sick people and
seriously undermine the credibility of the Doha Round and the WTO. Oxfam calls for the

immediate resolution of this issue, and for a deeper review of the much-reviled TRIPS
agreement from a broad development perspective.

No to Free Trade Area of the Americas!
As currently envisaged, the Free Trade Area of the Americas will not contribute to poverty
reduction and sustainable development in the region. Proposed rules clearly put the interest
of big corporations and the North American economies before the right to economic justice
and sustainable livelihoods, and will make it hard for countries to pursue pro-development
and pro-equity trade and investment policies. For instance, dumping of cereals, meat and
dairy products, which already destroys thousands of farmers’ livelihoods, would be made
easier by greater market access for US agricultural exports into Latin America. At the same
time, the US is stubbornly refusing to open its own markets to Latin American products
such as textiles, steel and agricultural goods.

As a result, the FTAA will lead to worse poverty and inequality in the region or to more
economic imbalances between North and South America.

This is why OXFAM has joined the thousands of organizations throughout the Americas
actively campaigning against the FTAA and its corporate driven-agenda. On the contrary,
we are calling for an alternative agenda for the Americas based on anti-poverty, pro-
development domestic, regional and multilateral policies and corporate practices.

Decent prices for coffee farmers!

The world coffee crisis is causing millions of small farmers to live in misery. In all coffee-
producing countries, families are going hungry, children are taken out of school and
farmers are losing their land and livelihood because prices are at their lowest level in
history. At the same time, multinational companies in the coffee sector are registering
record profits and charging prices to rich country consumers up to 7000 percent higher than
those received by farmers in the developing world.

This injustice starkly illustrates the inability of governments and the unwillingness of big
companies to regulate international markets in a way that would allow small farmers to
make a decent living. Small coffee farmers who produce 70% of the world coffee supply
are marginalized in international commodity chains dominated by big multinational
companies such as Nestle, Kraft, Sara Lee and Procter and Gamble and do not benefit from
access to rich consumer markets. In the absence of mechanisms to guarantee stable and
remunerative international coffee prices, small farmers are left alone to deal with the boom
and bust cycles of the international coffee market.

This is why the Global Alliance on Coffee and Commodities is asking for:
   - multinational companies to pay decent prices to small farmers and increase
        purchases of fair trade coffee,
   - producing and consuming country governments to secure remunerative prices on
        international coffee markets by resolving the current oversupply crisis and
        promoting more sustainable production and consumption practices in the long-term.


Oxfam wants to Make Trade Fair and we are calling upon people around the world to help
us make that aim a reality. We ask people to make a difference by recording messages to
add to our petition of sound, the Big Noise or by adding their name at

On a daily basis thousands of people are joining the Big Noise. For example 120,000
Belgian voices have been added to the Big Noise through signatures collected in shops,
more than 50,000 people in India have joined via partners and alliances, 100,000 signatures
were collected in Spain through a road show and our website is working hard for us with
more than 90,000 people joining up online.

The Big Noise is a reflection of the desire of thousands of people to Make Trade Fair and
demonstrates that ordinary people care about the decisions made on this issue. We use these
voices to pressure world leaders that they have to act.

At Porto Alegre, Oxfam will have a coffee shop set up with our partner CONTAG. We
will have a ―BIG EARS" phone to record big noise messages and collect voice petitions.
We want people to register their concerns, feelings, song's or whatever they wish to express
in relation to coffee and fair trade.

Information including upcoming campaigning activities, documents and contact points in
OXFAM affiliates and regional offices:

Kate Simpson
E-mail :
Tel :+61-3-9289 9495

Media enquiries:
Matt Grainger
Tel : +44-1865-311-311

During Porto Alegre:
Katia Maia
Tel (mobile):
+55 61 9973-6526 (international call)
+61 9973-6526 (national call).


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