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We Don’t Want the WTO!

  • OMC

Below is the open letter to the Thai government signed by over 20 organizations in Thailand.

For those in Hong Kong: Fight for us and stop the WTO meeting for us. We will do our best in Thailand.

For the ten years that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has existed, people have been forced to face disruptions of their everyday lives. Its single global market agenda poses a great threat to the diversity of the world. Every country, including Thailand, is now being pressured into deregulation and the amendment of its constitution and laws to comply with WTO requirements. Expansion of monopolies and control over agribusiness through privatization means that access to water, land, seeds, forests, natural resources and energy is a constant struggle. This is devastating people’s lives in many ways.

WTO policies are leading directly to increasingly rapid climate change and decreasing biodiversity, which are destroying the entire planet’s future. The concentration of power that is reinforced, for example, through consolidated media control is also causing the destruction of cultural diversity and indigenous cultures, particularly affecting women, children and the elderly.

Capitalism is undemocratic by nature and as one of its main driving forces, the WTO is also undemocratic. It is based on undemocratic national governments from all over the world. This lack of democracy is shown in part through increasing violence against protesters and popular movements and the loss of civil liberties, which are exemplified in the so-called ‘War on Terror’.

Because its rules are based on injustice under the authority of superpowers such as the United States of America, the European Union, and the transnational corporations of these countries, the WTO is not an organization that is focused on creating peace or happiness for the people of the world. On the contrary, the WTO merely serves the purpose of defending the interests of the superpowers and large-scale capital.

Experience with the WTO over the last ten years has shown clearly that Thailand is being adversely affected. For example, we have witnessed the destruction of small-scale farmers; increasingly violent struggles over land, forest and water that have resulted in the loss of large numbers of innocent lives; the plight of poor people who have been pressed into migrating to Bangkok, only to be faced with forced displacement at the hands of capital and the state; the privatization of state-owned enterprises, resulting in skyrocketing prices for essential public services; and the inadequacy of labor protection laws, which have led to widespread abuses of labor, including problems relating to labor subcontracting, workers’ health and safety issues, employment in the informal sector, and the failure to adjust the minimum wage to a level sufficient to meet people’s basic needs.

We, the undersigned people’s organizations, demand that the Thai government comply with the following requests:

1) The government must hold a referendum before concluding an agreement on any issue at the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Hong Kong and must submit the agreement for debate and approval by parliament.

2) The government must not cater to the interests of capitalists alone, and must hold a referendum as well as respect the will of the majority of the people on the issues of liberalization of trade in the agricultural sector, privatization of state-owned enterprises, patent laws, and the liberalization of trade in services related to welfare and state control, especially in the areas of electricity, water, transportation, education, and healthcare.

3) The government must stop pushing for the adoption of the draft law on special economic zones, and stop attempting to rush through the amendment of over 400 laws that would merely promote investment without initiating a process of public hearings into the potential impact on people all over the country.

Finally, we, the Thai people’s movement, together with the global network of people’s movement, reaffirm our opposition to negotiation on and the conclusion of trade agreements that are unfair. We also declare our intent to oppose the WTO to the very end.

This open letter to the Thai government reflects the position of the undersigned people’s organizations:

– Assembly of the Poor
– Thai Labour Solidarity Working Committee
– Labour Coordinating Center
– State Enterprises Workers’ Relation Confederation
– Women Unity Group
– Confederation for Democracy
– ITF Thailand
– Center for Aids Rights
– Slum Network
– Friends of the People
– Community University
– Thai Labour Campaign
– Media for Human Rights
– Rangsit Workers Area Group
– Campaign for Popular Democracy
– Thai Action on Globalization
– FTA-Watch Group
– Focus on the Global South
– Northern Peasants Federation
– Northern Development Foundation