We are aware that in the 26 years of its existence, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its neoliberal framework have promoted the interests of the big corporations and the few global economic elite, leading to destroyed livelihoods and the environment. The jobs crisis is unprecedented, with 255 million jobs lost, almost 5 times the number of jobs lost during the 2008 global economic crisis. In the meantime, the profits the corporation rake in continue to rise, and according to Oxfam in 2021, “the world’s ten richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the pandemic began.”
Global trade remained skewed in favor of the richest economies. The top 10% of the world economies have registered 12% growth in their trade, while the bottom 40% have registered almost no growth, with the smallest economies even shrinking by 26%. With continued growth in the rich economies, we are to expect the rich to become richer and the poor economies to continue lagging behind, placing more of the global population in the realm of misery.
The Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS), which covers domestic regulation on foreign investment, resulted in race-to-the-bottom wages and deteriorating labor standards for workers. The Non-agricultural Market Access (NAMA) deals with tariffs and non-tariff on all products not under agriculture, which is around 90% of the total merchandise exports. These measures aimed to abolish any restriction on foreign investors paving the way for greater expansion of extractive industries and corporate plantations. As labor markets continue to be liberalized , more and more workers and fisherfolks are now part of the precariat, with real income continually plunging south despite continued increase of labor productivity.
The WTO forced poor and developing countries to open their economies to foreign goods and capital through international treaties such as the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) and Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). With the AoA, local agricultural production are being drowned with the flood of imported agricultural produce, further reducing farm gate prices and destroying income and livelihood of small farmers. Its imposition of tariff cuts and removal of trade barriers brought about the destruction of national economies and productive forces, including local industries and agriculture.
The WTO remains to be one of the biggest impediments in democratizing life-saving medicines and therapies. The WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has ensured the extraction of superprofits through drug patents and monopoly on the industry. The agreement continues to serve the interest of big pharmaceuticals, Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and their imperialist hosts at the expense of our health and lives.
The multitude of free trade agreements brokered and promoted by the WTO have perpetuated this system of inequality between nations of the North and the South. The continued adherence of the WTO to the failed Neoliberal paradigm enabled wealth to continue to be concentrated in greater numbers in a few rich economies, while the rest of economies in the South are left with crumbs.
We are all bearers of proof on how the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the past decades since 1995 have served as promoter and enabler of corporations and the economic elite. The promise of a “more prosperous, peaceful and accountable economic world” by the WTO is true only for the few members of the global economic elite, while the rest of us are stuck in the muck of inequality and poverty, our lands drowning from rising sea levels, our lips parched from unprecedented elevated global temperatures.
The representatives and enablers of the global economic elite will meet again this November 30 during the WTO Ministerial meeting. We are aware of the response to the COVID19 pandemic by the WTO, which now promises a “recovery” process promoting further liberalization and deregulation of trade and commerce, which are the very tenets of neoliberalism that brought us to this crisis to begin with. This global regime on trade has ravaged and destroyed lives and livelihoods, violated our basic rights, and has irreversibly damaged the environment and the planet. It has already failed the people of the world therefore it has no integrity to tell us how to recover and build a better world.
We thus make this clarion call for an end to the World Trade Organization and all free trade agreements. We need to establish a new global trade order under the United Nations promoting peoples’ trade and development. Under these new mechanisms, trade must be made equitable and equal among countries and peoples, where the peoples agenda, the interest and welfare of people and environment takes precedence over any interests of corporations and the global elite. We make this call for a new mechanism covering global trade that promotes lives and livelihood and protects our lands, oceans, and air, replacing the WTO which remains under control by the TNCs and the economic elite.
We are the working people of the world campaigning for People over Profit (POP). People Over Profit is a workers-led, global campaign platform that unites working peoples, social movements, and NGOs across the globe against corporate greed, corporate plunder and to demand people over profit, fighting against imperial hegemony of transnational corporations (TNCs) on the daily lives of the working people. The power of TNCs threatens our democracy, our rights, and our lives.
The POP is a campaign platform of mostly Global South organizations and peoples. POP is our contribution to the building of a global popular resistance against corporate greed and transnational corporate plunder. We promote and support peoples’ resistance around the world against all forms of neoliberal corporate attacks by sharing analyses and information and coordinating actions at the national, regional, and global levels.
We thus reiterate our call for an end to the WTO and all free trade agreements and the establishment of a new global trade order consistent in promoting the peoples economic agenda, and trade equality among nations and peoples. Governments and their representatives must stop becoming enablers of TNCs. It is high time for the interest of the peoples of the world to take precedence over the corporations and few economic elites.
Defend our jobs and livelihood now!
Dismantle the WTO and end corporate-led trade!
Take the Monopolies and the TNCs out of our lives!
We affix our signatures as proof of our commitment to work together and achieve our demands. We confirm our responsibilities to bring more organizations and peoples across the Global South to take part in the work of POP and achieve our demands.
Initial Signatories :
Global and Regional:
International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS)
International Women’s Alliance (IWA)
International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)
Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)
Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Pesticide Action Network – Asia Pacific (PANAP)
Global Naga Forum
Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy (AIPNEE)
Water Justice and Gender
Hong Kong Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC)
India Center for Research and Advocacy in Manipur (CRAM)
Indonesia Institute for National and Democratic Studies (INDIES)
Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (SERUNI)
Malaysia TENAGANITA Women’s Force
Mongolia Centre for Human Rights and Development
Pakistan Pakistan Kishan Mazdoor Tehreek
Roots for Equity
Center for Human Rights and Development
Columna Sur- ILPS Bolivia
Anti- Oppression Circle
Member of Extinction Rebellion
Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum (KESSFF)
North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS)
Biliran Province State University
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)