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Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 4
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WTO Millennium Bug: TNC Control Over Global Trade Politics

he subject of this special issue of the Corporate Europe Observer is the World Trade Organisation, which in the first four years of its existence has built up a dark environmental and social record. Large corporations have been the satisfied beneficiaries of its treaties, while communities and small farmers around the world have suffered from WTO-promoted ‘free trade’. This outcome is hardly surprising, as corporate lobby groups have been closely involved in the shaping of many of the WTO agreements. The WTO's model of economic development is increasingly identified as being incompatible with ecological sustainability. In its rulings in trade disputes on bananas, beef hormones and numerous other products, the WTO has put trade above all else, overruling environmental, social, consumer and health considerations.

Despite the increasing backlash against the WTO and its treaties, the European Commission hopes to further expand the scope of the body’s mandate as well as its power, through the proposed WTO Millennium Round (which would start in November at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle, US). Armed with its newly-adopted rhetoric to win over NGOs, the EU continues to fashion its international trade policies around the economic interests of European-based corporations. In its campaign for the Millennium Round, the Commission has been freshening up its connections with European industry and encouraging corporate networks to provide input towards EU negotiating positions. This symbiotic relationship, which was solidified during negotiations on the WTO Financial Services Agreement in 1997, has now been complemented with a far vaguer parallel process of ‘dialogues' with civil society.

We begin this newsletter with a short introduction to the WTO and the role of the EU in global trade politics. Although the bias to corporate interests is no less strong in many national governments, the focus of the following articles is on the European Commission (EC), which has a major role in shaping EU policies on these issues. In this newsletter we present two recent examples of industry’s increasingly efficient (ab)use of the WTO dispute settlement system. This is followed by two case studies of corporate lobby group influence over the negotiations on WTO Agreements. The second half of this newsletter focuses on the EU’s campaign (led by the EC) for a WTO Millennium Round and its close partnership with large corporations. And of course we introduce the citizen’s campaigns against the proposed new round and for a fundamental review of the WTO system. A statement signed by over 700 groups around the world demands a change of course away from highspeed liberalisation and corporate dominance over trade policies as the only chance to make the international economic system Millennium proof.

This issue of Corporate Europe Observer is brought to you by Belén Balanyá, Ann Doherty, Olivier Hoedeman, Adam Ma’anit and Erik Wesselius.

Corporate Europe Observatory is a research and campaign group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power of corporations and their lobby groups.

. Corporate Europe Observatory • Prinseneiland 329 • 1013 LP Amsterdam • Netherlands
tel/fax: +31-30-236-4422 • e-mail: <ceo@xs4all.nl> • Website: <http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo>


The WTO is Born

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"Governments should interfere in the conduct of trade as little as possible." [1]
                                                                  Peter Sutherland, former director general of GATT

With the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations on 15 December 1993, crucial decision-making powers with the potential to impact billions of people were bestowed upon the World Trade Organisation. Today, with a membership of over 130 countries, the body’s mandate is greatly expanded from that of its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Moving beyond its historic role of setting tariffs and quotas, the WTO now deals with non-tariff barriers to trade (such as health and environmental standards) as well as every imaginable regulation that might somehow 'distort’ or 'obstruct’ the free flow of goods and services.

espite its outwardly democratic appearance due to its policies of equal participation by all member states in consensus-based decision-making, the WTO is extremely undemocratic and opaque. Although they represent the majority of the world’s nations and peoples, developing countries have very little say in the negotiation process. Lack of financial and human resources, discussions between the most powerful countries behind closed doors, and most importantly, very strong pressure from the US and the EU, often force developing country governments into accepting deals very much against their interests.

Despite a generous layer of 'feel good’ pro-globalisation rhetoric, the goals of the EU’s international trade and investment policies remain brutally inflexible. Its policies are propelled by a hunger for unfettered market access for European-based TNCs and the dismantling of local regulations in order to create a so-called global ‘level playing field’. A similar logic governs the policies adopted by other major global powers, and the predominant political blocs have joined forces within the World Trade Organisation to dismantle barriers to trade and investment in the less industrialised nations. The EU and the US prepare their common positions bilaterally within the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) and within the so-called ‘Quad’ (comprising the US, the EU, Japan and Canada). As Josh Karliner observes in The Corporate Planet: "To a large degree, the triad of Japan, EU and US can be seen as three large corporate states, at times cooperating, at times competing with one another to promote the interests of their rival transnationals across the globe." [2]

As the millennium draws to a close, a number of high-profile trade disputes between the EU and the US have placed the WTO’s unique implementation powers in the spotlight. The WTO’s sharpest teeth are its dispute settlement body and its cross-retaliation provisions, both of which enable it to force nations to comply with WTO rules. The increasing number of controversial rulings in which the WTO dispute settlement body has upheld corporate interests over those of people and the environment has severely tarnished the WTO’s image.

Within the WTO system, any member state can complain to the dispute settlement body about any other member’s policies or laws that are perceived to restrict the free flow of trade. If the panel - composed of unelected bureaucrats - finds a government guilty of non-compliance with WTO agreements, the offending country must change its legislation or face retaliatory trade sanctions by the complaining party, even in sectors unrelated to the dispute. The offending country may also face heavy financial penalties.

During the first four years of the WTO’s existence, the dispute settlement mechanism has been invoked predominantly for disputes between the EU and the US. Its first decisions provide a disturbing picture of what can be expected in the future. There have been a total of 177 cases in which a country challenges a law or practice of another country by invoking WTO rules during this first four-year period. The majority of these cases could be settled without interference by the WTO’s dispute settlement body. Eighteen of the 177 disputes were settled by a binding panel decision, and another 18 are currently being examined by the WTO panels. [3]

The following two case studies, are examples of how the business groupings use the WTO system to pursue their interests at the expense of people and the environment.

Industry’s Beef With Consumers

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In early May of 1997, a three-person WTO dispute settlement panel ruled that a nine-year ban imposed by the European Union on hormone-treated beef was illegal under WTO rules. The ruling, which overturned an important consumer health law, caused outrage throughout Europe.

ver the past decade, Monsanto, a US-based TNC which formerly produced chemicals, has restyled itself into a ‘life science’ corporation, leaning heavily on the manipulation of genetic material. One of its products is a recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), used by large- scale dairy farmers in the US to increase the milk production of their cows. Other ‘natural’ hormones such as oestradiol and testosterone are also commonly used by US cattle farmers. In 1995, 90 percent of US cattle were treated with some type of growth hormone.

In January 1989, the European Union, applying the ‘precautionary principle’, deemed safety claims by US industry unconvincing and imposed a ban on the import of hormone-treated beef and milk. The ban also applied to producers within the European Union. In response to strong lobbying by Monsanto, the US National Cattlemen’s Association, the US Dairy Export Council, the National Milk Producers Federation and other interest groups, then US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor initiated action in the WTO against the EU ban on beef hormones.[4]

On the EU side, industry groups such as FEDESA, the primary lobby organisation for the European animal ‘health’ products industry, and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA), both members of EuropaBio (the primary biotech lobby group in the EU), pressured the Commission to lift the ban, which was affecting European companies as well. In chorus with their US counterparts, they argued that there is always some risk with food involving genetic modification or hormone treatment. Pressure from consumer protection organisations and other NGOs made the Commission realise that the lifting of its ban on hormone-treated beef and milk was a political hot potato. Supported by a growing body of evidence suggesting that certain natural and synthetic hormones are linked to rising incidences of cancer, the Commission decided not to lift its ban, despite the WTO ruling.

The preliminary decision in the dispute over hormone beef is the first ruling thus far based on a three-year-old WTO agreement known as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement. This agreement requires that restrictions based on food health and safety be based on scientific evidence, and accepts internationally agreed standards, such as those decided within the UN system, as a justification for taking protective trade measures. Since the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) deemed the hormones to be safe, the WTO Panel ruled that the EU’s ban was unjustified and should be lifted.

This ruling sets a dangerous precedent for national consumer health and safety protection laws. Many experts believe that various EU measures, such as those regulating other animal products, may now also be challenged by the US and other nations.[5] The process of whittling away consumer protection laws and regulations in Europe and elsewhere for the sake of industry will thus continue unabated unless steps are taken to reverse this trend.

Former WTO boss Renato Ruggiero, and former GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel (now head of the ICC Working Group on Trade and Investment. {Photo: K. Heidinger}

Mass-Burma: Human Rights Objectives Overruled

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In the United States, individual states and communities have long expressed their political leanings through the enactment of ‘selective purchasing’ laws. These laws pressure transnational corporations to cease doing business with repressive regimes by imposing ‘pricing penalties’ on their goods and services. Since 1996, for example, Massachusetts has imposed a 10 percent penalty on goods and services provided by companies with financial interests in Myanmar. Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar is renowned for the brutal human rights abuses imposed upon citizens by its illegitimate military government. To date, Siemens, Unilever and several Japanese companies are among those that have been penalised by the Massachusetts legislation, and the law was cited as one of the main reasons for Apple Computer’s withdrawal from Myanmar.[6]

he Massachusetts-Burma law has come under attack both on the US domestic front and internationally, particularly in the EU and Japan. The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), a coalition of some 600 US-based manufacturers and financial institutions, has taken the state of Massachusetts to court over the law. [7] Oil companies such as Texaco and Mobil have expressed their concern about the impact of such laws on their activities in Burma and other dictatorial regimes. Seeking to distance itself from charges that the NFTC places economic interests above human rights in Burma, a front group called USA Engage was set up with the assistance of Anne L. Wexler,[8] head of the Washington-based consultancy Wexler Group.[9]

USA Engage was officially introduced at an April 1997 press conference where it portrayed itself as a "broad-based coalition representing Americans from all regions, sectors, and segments of our society".[10] The group promptly began an intensive lobbying campaign in Washington DC against selective purchasing laws and other economic sanctions placed on corporations based on social and environmental objectives.

In Europe, European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) companies including Ericsson, Unilever and Siemens also viewed the Massachusetts law as a dangerous precedent to be quickly crushed. Industry mobilised its forces to pressure the European Commission to challenge the US government to drop the Massachusetts law. Failing that strategy, corporations urged the initiation of action in the WTO. Japanese heavyweights such as Mitsubishi, Sony, and Nissan, some of the biggest losers in the Massachusetts law, applied the same pressure to the Japanese government.

It thus came as no surprise when the European Union and Japan requested the creation of a WTO dispute panel in October of 1998, arguing that the Massachusetts law was discriminatory and in violation of WTO rules on government procurement. Although the EU suspended the WTO panel in February of 1999 (perhaps as a conciliatory move in its bitter banana war with the US government), it has threatened to revive the case if the US federal government does not take action against Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts-Burma case brings up many critical questions about national and local sovereignty and the precedence of trade over social and environmental objectives. It also highlights some of the inequities in the current balance of power within the EU. In September of 1998, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling upon the Commission to put an end to all trade, tourism and investment by EU-based companies in Myanmar. The resolution also criticised the Commission decision to call for a WTO dispute panel on the Massachusetts law.[11] The Commission has also been criticised by the European Trade Union Confederation and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions for ignoring human rights abuses in Burma. Yet according to an EU spokesman, "Breaking WTO rules doesn’t help anyone. The key thing in this case is the United States’ failure to honour its international commitments."[12]

Corporate Involvement in WTO Negotiations

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Transnational corporations have thus far been the main beneficiaries of WTO agreements. This is hardly surprising, as in many cases they have directly influenced the positions of the most powerful WTO members during the negotiation of these agreements. This was certainly the case during the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations, when the bulk of the WTO agreements were shaped. In addition to bringing Southern countries under the GATT and its discipline and putting new issues on the trade agenda, the Uruguay Round granted Northern TNCs expanded access to developing country markets. The seven-year round, which began in 1986, helped Northern countries and their corporations to achieve further liberalisation in sectors where they had an advantage, such as services, and also introduced intellectual property rights and other protections for TNC activities.

he most strenuous lobbying took place in the US. Not only did individual companies vie for general trade liberalisation and the opening up of markets, but industry coalitions were also created to push for the inclusion of certain issues under the GATT regime. For example, the Coalition of Service Industries lobbied for a new trade regime for services [13] and the Intellectual Property Committee worked to get the TRIPs (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement on the agenda. Industry influence was also evident in the composition of the US delegation: the vast majority of members were from the corporate world.

During the first years of the Uruguay Round, European business lobby groups were not intensively involved in negotiations. EU industry launched a serious lobbying effort only when negotiations came to a deadlock over the agreement on agriculture. According to former ERT Secretary-General Keith Richardson:

"What we tried to say to governments is: whatever the difficulties are, the most important thing is to get the overall deal, because that will bring benefits to the whole of European business. And the total picture is more important than the individual difficulties. It’s quite a difficult message, and the only way you really do it is with face-to-face meetings." [14]

While the ERT focused on national governments, UNICE, the European employers’ confederation, worked closely with the European Commission to bring the negotiations to a close. UNICE analysts chewed all of the proposals over carefully before spitting industry’s positions back to the Commission.

The following two case studies, on the TRIPs and the Financial Services agreements, show in more detail how transnational corporations have worked to shape WTO agreements to their own preferences.

Former WTO boss Renato Ruggiero and ICC Secretary-General Maria Livanos Cattaui
with Von Pierer and Fitzgerald (Siemens and Unilever) at the ICC Geneva Business Dialogue last year.
{Photo: K. Hedinger}

Power TRIPs

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"Industry has identified a major problem in international trade. It crafted a solution, reduced it to a concrete proposal and sold it to our own and other governments ... The industries and traders of world commerce have simultaneously played the role of patients, the diagnosticians and the physicians"      
- James Enyart, Monsanto [15]

TRIPs (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) grant corporations the right to protect their ‘intellectual property’ in all WTO countries. This forces WTO member states to apply minimum standards in seven areas of intellectual property, including copyright and trademark protection, patents and industrial designs. The TRIPs agreement is the brainchild of an industry coalition with members from the US, the EU and Japan. The first initiative was taken by the Intellectual Property Committee (IPC), which brings together 13 major US corporations including Bristol Myers Squibb, DuPont, Monsanto, and General Motors. The IPC was created with the explicit goal of putting TRIPs firmly on the GATT agenda.[16]

ccording to a former Monsanto employee, one of the IPC’s first tasks was ‘missionary work’ in Europe and Japan in order to gather the support of corporate heavyweights for the TRIPs campaign. [17] UNICE and the Japanese business organisation Keidanren were easy converts. According to former Pfizer CEO Edmund T. Pratt, who attended numerous GATT negotiations in the capacity of official advisor to the US Trade Representative, "Our combined strength enabled us to establish a global private sector government network which laid the groundwork for what became TRIPs." [18] In 1988, an industry paper on the "Basic Framework for GATT Provisions on Intellectual Property" made it into the Uruguay Round negotiations, following a lobby campaign in both Geneva and on the national level. Not surprisingly, the position put forth by the influential US delegation was strikingly similar to industry’s proposal.

The fundamental imbalance in the TRIPs agreement is that southern countries possess very little intellectual property, and they furthermore do not possess the resources to develop this sector in the near future. They do, however, contain most of the world’s biodiversity, from which many pharmaceutical and agricultural patents are derived. Calculations show that up to 80 percent of patents for technology and products in developing countries are held by TNCs. [19] This imbalance, coupled with concern about the ethical implications of the private ownership of life, prompted some southern countries to fiercely oppose all forms of lifeform patenting during the TRIPs negotiations. The industry-dominated US delegation, with 96 out of the 111 members from the corporate sector,[20] called for everything to be patentable, including plants and animals.

The compromise result was a so-called ‘biodiversity provision’ in the TRIPs agreement, which allows countries to exclude plants and animals from patentability under the condition that they develop a similar system of protection (a so-called sui generis system). The biodiversity provision is slated for review in 1999, which has kept the lobby machines working at full speed. The US, now supported by the EU, Canada and Japan, is pressing hard for the expansion of what can be covered under intellectual property rights in the agreement. Southern countries, however, appear determined to stand firm against US and industry pressure, proposing among other things to definitively exclude biodiversity from TRIPS.

Genuinely concerned about the firm stance taken by developing countries, civil society and some international bodies such as the UN Convention on Biodiversity [21], industry is joining forces to resist any weakening of their rights under the TRIPs agreement and lobbying their governments not to cave in. If industry has its way, the revised biodiversity article will make it impossible to exclude lifeforms from patent law, and developing countries’ control over their biological resources will be further weakened. Ethical, socio-economic, cultural and environmental considerations will also be ignored, reducing the patenting of life merely to a matter of commercial interests.

Financial Services Agreement: Servicing the North 

"This agreement is like taking back the neighbourhood. We need a policeman on the block. We can’t have governments behaving in thuggish ways." [22]
                      - Gordon Cloney of the US-based International Insurance Council

In 1997, three new agreements were signed within the framework of the WTO. One agreement dismantled tariffs on trade in information technology products, and another did the same for the telecommunications sector. In December 1997, a third agreement was signed, on the liberalisation of the financial services sectors, including banking and insurance. All three of these "jewels in the WTO crown", as EU Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan termed them, were the result of systematic pressure on southern governments by the EU and the US.

ccording to Brittan, "Europe was already a force for liberalisation in the Uruguay Round negotiations, but in the sectoral achievements that followed, Europe has unquestionably taken the lead in pushing for greater and faster liberalisation of world markets than any of our partners."[23] The three sectoral agreements were shaped in very close cooperation with European and US corporations. This can clearly be seen in the case of the financial services agreement, highlighted by Brittan as a model for business involvement in future trade negotiations.

This agreement, which entered into force on 1 March 1999, will remove many obstacles for financial services corporations wanting to enter Southern ‘emerging markets’, which until recently had policies in place to protect the domestic banking and insurance sectors. It has been signed by 70 WTO member countries, and it is predicted that it will liberalise over 90 percent of the world market in insurance, banking and brokerage services. [24] The economic interests are obviously enormous. Total global bank assets are estimated at more than US$41 trillion, while the insurance sector brings in over $2.1 trillion in premiums and trade in shares is worth over $15 trillion per year.[25] The Financial Services Agreement does not oblige countries to fully open their markets from the start; countries may file specific reservations. However, the agreement does ‘lock-in’ liberalisation and market access, banning new protective measures.

The financial services negotiations were an unsolved leftover from Uruguay Round negotiations on services (GATS). In 1995, negotiations on this sector failed once again when the US withdrew, displeased with the reluctance of Asian and Latin American countries to open their markets to US financial services corporations. Some 60 other countries signed an interim agreement, and negotiations were relaunched in April 1997. The European Commission now took the lead, aware that EU countries had removed almost all internal barriers to foreign trade and investment in the financial services sector over the previous years. As Asian countries were loath to further liberalise their financial services sectors, senior trade officials from the European Commission and the US embarked upon a campaign to make them change their minds. They travelled to Asian capitals and presented financial services liberalisation as the cure for sluggish economies, as it would attract new foreign capital flows.

The third partner in this team effort was, according to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, "the international financial industry, particularly from the US and the EU, united in the Financial Leaders Group (FLG)."[26] The FLG’s role was to "identify the barriers to trade in other countries"; the EU and US delegations would then put these obstacles on the negotiating agenda. The group - headed by the largest banks and insurance companies in the world, including Barclays PLC, Chase Manhattan, ING Group, Ford Financial Services Group, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Canada - strives for the liberalisation of the financial services sector on a global scale. FLG co-chairmen are Andrew Buxton, head of UK-based Barclays PLC, and Dean O’Hare of the US Chubb Corporation. Other members include the American International Group, British Invisibles, Bank of America, Aegon Insurance Group, Dresdner Bank AG, Citigroup, ROBECO Group, UBS and over 50 other bank, investment and insurance companies.

EU Commissioner Brittan stressed that "the close links established between EC and US industry ... were an essential factor in obtaining the final deal."[27] In fact, he found the cooperation with the Financial Leaders Group to be so inspiring that he wants to use it as a prototype for the future. "Within the EU, we are now considering a private sector involvement in the process of building up our priorities," he said some months after the deal was finished. "The example of the EU-US Financial Leaders Group - involving a group of business leaders to provide high- level momentum to the negotiations - has been the model for the creation of a new mechanism for Europe. A similar deal will be needed for the next round of services liberalisation negotiations."[28] The FLG can certainly count on the full support of the Trade Commissioner in its preparations for the upcoming WTO negotiations on services (including financial services) scheduled to begin in the year 2000.

While banking, securities and insurance corporations based in the EU, US and Japan were jubilant about the signing of the agreement, negotiators from the countries referred to as ‘emerging markets’ were far less enthusiastic. In practice, the benefits are reserved for the northern corporations which can now enter new markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. The prospect of services companies from the South competing in northern markets is illusory. When southern countries signed on to the agreement, it was in the hope of attracting foreign direct investment and financing. The EU, the US and their financial services corporations argued that the market openings will make the banking and insurance industries in ‘emerging markets’ more efficient by increasing competition. But it is very likely that plentiful jobs will be lost as local banks are swallowed up by northern financial services corporations with far greater resources. An already unequitable financial cycle will thus be solidified, with profits flowing back to shareholders in the EU, the US and Japan.

EU Trade Policies and the Democratic Gap

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The accelerated process of European unification has resulted in a fundamental democratic gap, which provides an ideal environment for corporate lobbying. The powers of the European Parliament remain far too limited to compensate for the loss of democratic control created as more and more decision making power shifts from national capitals to the two highly untransparent EU institutions, the EC and the Council of Ministers.

ecision-making on international trade and investment policies is arguably one of the areas where the EU’s democratic gap is most pronounced. Member states have delegated most of their powers upwards, giving the European Commission an agenda-setting role. The Commission negotiates on behalf of the EU member states in bodies like the WTO, and has the exclusive right to undertake new trade initiatives. The bulk of the EU’s decisions on trade and investment are made in the powerful ‘133 Committee’ (previously called ‘113 Committee’), which consists of trade officials from member states and Commission representatives. Only major or controversial issues are brought before the EU foreign trade ministers.[29]

"The Commission is like a dog on a very long leash," observes Michael Hindley, UK Labour Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and this description is particularly applicable to ultra-free Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan.[30] The European Parliament is informed, but lacks decision making power on external trade policies. National parliaments fail to exert effective control over their EU trade ministers due to a combination of lack of information and limited awareness about the importance of international trade and investment issues. These critical issues have been treated as mere technical matters for far too long.

Happily, thanks to the public uproar about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the devastating financial crisis, the EU’s policies are increasingly coming under scrutiny. Real change will however be hard to achieve. It is symptomatic and disturbing that the European Commission remained firmly behind the MAI, even while one government after the other abandoned the sinking negotiations, pushing for its completion before public opposition spiralled out of control.[31] During the MAI negotiating session in February 1998, the European Commission issued a strong warning against passing the April 1998 deadline for the negotiations: "Buying more time will make things more difficult, not easier, as special interest groups everywhere discover the questionable value found in denouncing the MAI for their own purposes which have nothing to do with investment."[32]

The European Commission stressed that a failure of the MAI negotiations would also jeopardise the ultimate goal of an investment agreement in the WTO: "It would be bad for the globalised economy in general. The world would be further away from global investment rules than ever, and this for a long time, if we in the OECD cannot agree on the first cornerstone."[33] The US on the other hand indicated to the other negotiators that it was "not ready to make a deal" and instead favoured "a reflection period and intensified bilateral contacts as the best way to make progress."[34] The battle was led by powerful EU Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan, who with his hardline neoliberal political stance is a real barrier to political change. According to World Trade Organisation boss Renato Ruggiero, Brittan is "one of the most important free trade advocates of this decade."[35] Not even when financial meltdown hit large parts of the global economy did Sir Leon Brittan reconsider the dogmatic recepy of highspeed liberalisation he prescribes for every situation.

Globalisation in Crisis, the EU’s Indifference

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"Let us not forget that those who are in difficulty today are also those who most dramatically benefited from globalisation yesterday, and may again tomorrow."
- EU Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan.

The financial crisis of the past few years has demonstrated the alarming instability of the deregulated global economy. Unprecedented suffering has been inflicted upon millions of ordinary people in the hardest hit countries. The United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 20 million workers became unemployed between July 1997 and September 1998 alone; this was even before Russia and Brazil were heavily impacted by the crisis.[37] In June 1999, the World Bank estimated that up to 200 million people had been thrown into "abject poverty" due to the financial meltdown. This raised the number of people living in poverty to over 1.5 billion worldwide.[38] Despite some recovery, the aftermath of the crisis continues to increase social problems around the world.

he EU, however, refuses to reconsider the current model of economic globalisation. It has callously blamed the governments of the affected countries for catalysing the crisis through poor financial management, and vehemently denies any link with trade and investment liberalisation. Clearly, the EU hopes to avoid a debate about the pitfalls of the high speed deregulation of recent years, given its lofty ambitions for the strengthening of such policies within the WTO. Its continued promotion of international trade and investment liberalisation despite increasing social misery and environmental destruction is indefensible.

Contrary to the promised ‘trickle-down effect’ of economic growth based on international trade, the global gap between rich and poor continues to widen. UNCTAD’s 1997 Trade and Development Report concludes that globalisation in its current form is responsible for a dramatic increase in global inequality. In 1965, the average personal income in G-7 countries was 20 times that in the seven poorest countries in the world. In 1995, the difference was 39 times greater. Income inequalities and polarisation are also growing within countries: the share of wealth pocketed by the top 20 percent of the population has increased in most nations since the early 1980s. Women in particular pay a high toll for the neoliberal restructuring of societies, suffering specifically from the resulting higher unemployment rates, lower quality jobs, reduced salaries and the dismantling of the welfare state.[39]

UNCTAD blames the highspeed liberalisation of market forces for these developments, and considers the current situation inevitable until the economy is refitted with regulations. The EU, on the other hand, argues that further liberalisation and expanded trade is the solution, despite the fact that more than one quarter of global production is currently exported in comparison with only seven percent in 1950.[40] Many smaller countries in the South already depend upon international trade for up to 40 percent of their gross domestic product, placing them in an extremely vulnerable position. Growing inequalities are becoming strikingly prominent even within affluent Northern economies, which generally profit most from corporate-led globalisation. Although EU studies admit that the turbulent present is "the time when unskilled workers will be at risk of losing their jobs", the EU continues to reiterate its increasingly hollow claim that economic globalisation brings benefits that will eventually trickle down to all in European societies.[41]

The obvious beneficiaries of EU trade and investment policies are those European-based TNCs that have evolved into global players. Although corporations like Nestlé, Shell and Unilever have profited from transnational gianthood for decades with an established presence in over 100 countries around the world, they are being joined by other ERT companies like Ericsson, Saint Gobain and Pirelli. Large TNCs based in the US, the EU and Japan dominate the emerging global economy; the top 500 companies in particular control over two-thirds of world trade and more than one-third of the world’s total productive assets. Almost every sector of the global economy is under the grip of a handful of TNCs, the most recent being the services, automobile and pharmaceutical sectors. Despite the rethorics of liberalisation being a ‘win-win’ scenario for North and South, the EU’s international trade policies effectively continue to be guided by the ‘offensive interests’ of these corporate giants. There is no conspiracy involved and the image of helplessly weakened states blindly following the orders of TNCs is incorrect. Certainly economic globalisation has increased the bargaining power of corporations and their lobby groups, but this is itself the result of a set of policies promoted by governments. The corporate privileges in the WTO system is therefore the predictable result of the neoliberal economic ideology which continues to dominate in governments around the world.

The Millennium Round Offensive

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The European Commission, spurred on by very vocal Sir Leon Brittan, vigorously promotes the launching of a broad new round of WTO negotiations covering a wide range of issues following the November 1999 Ministerial Conference in Seattle. Apart from the issues in the WTO’s ‘built-in agenda’ - agriculture, intellectual property rights and services - the Commission has also proposed the initiation of negotiations for agreements on investment, public procurement, competition policy and other areas. The Commission seems slowly but surely to have gained the support of Canada and Japan, and the US, which had initially favoured separate negotiations on a smaller number of issues, is finally warming up to the idea of a grand new round. Southern governments, however, have not given Brittan’s initiative an overly warm reception. In fact, their resistance to negotiations on new issues - and particularly on investment - dates back to 1995 when an earlier EU offensive took place (see also "MAIgalomania", CEO 1998).

hen the negotiations for a multilateral investment treaty (MAI) officially began within the OECD in 1995, the involved northern countries had a two-track strategy, pushing simultaneously for a Multilateral Investment Agreement (MIA) within the WTO. In fact, the European Union hoped to launch talks on a MIA at the December 1996 WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore. Developing countries revolted against the MIA from the beginning, however, afraid that it would impact "the ability of national governments to regulate FDI flows so as to support national development objectives and priorities." Instead, they demanded that the investment issue be discussed within the framework of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).[42]

Despite fierce opposition by Third World governments, a WTO working group was set up to study the relations between trade and investment. This followed an utterly undemocratic procedure involving only an informal group of 30 countries. The cold war between OECD countries and MAI/MIA opponents continued throughout the meetings of the working group in 1997 and 1998. Fearing that the EU would succeed in rallying support for the preparation of negotiations, the citizen’s groups that opposed the MAI in the OECD insisted that it should not be revitalised within the WTO. In this politically tense climate, the investment working group announced in their December 1998 final report that they would not bring out any recommendation, but rather continue discussions.[43] Despite of these developments, the European Commission’s position has not significantly changed since 1995. The EC remains a staunch proponent of investment negotiations in the WTO.

The EC know that investment negotiations within the WTO will not result in a ‘big bang’ treaty like the MAI was intended to be. Rather a WTO investment treaty would consist of a gradual, but continuous process of investment deregulation over the next years. Underneath the new language of a "development-friendly" investment agreement, the EC’s primary goal is to get binding rules on investment that ‘lock in’ the deregulation that has taken place over the last years and which commits governments to gradually roll back the remaining barriers that ‘discriminate’ TNCs. This is essentially as undemocratic and dangerous as the OECD MAI. It is certainly a major threat to citizen’s groups in the South and North who have witnessed the negative social and environmental impacts of the deregulation wave of the last years. These controversial changes, often imposed by the IMF through its Structural Adjustment Programmes, would become international law and new policies to create a fair level playing field for local economic players and other attempts to re-regulate would be banned.

Many Third World governments, NGOs and peoples’ movements oppose the introduction of not only investment into the WTO, but of other proposed new issues as well. Martin Khor, director of the Third World Network, has pointed out that the EU’s motive for a WTO agreement on competition policy is not to limit corporate concentration on a global scale. On the contrary, it hopes to dismantle barriers faced by Northern TNCs in ‘emerging markets’, such as various laws or policies that favour local firms. These might include policies that give importing or distribution rights to local companies, for example.

On the issue of government procurement, the EU hopes to prevent southern governments from giving preference to local citizens or firms when distributing public sector contracts (such as for building or equipping hospitals, schools, infrastructure, etc.). Bringing government procurement under the WTO regime with its ‘national treatment’ principle would mean that foreign corporations must be given the same (or better) opportunities to win contracts as locals. When foreign investors complain about discriminatory treatment in a WTO member state, they would be able to bring the case to the WTO’s dispute settlement system through the intermediary of their own government and claim compensatory and retaliatory measures.

TNCs are drooling over the potential markets for government procurement contracts, which in many developing countries cover 20 to 30 percent of total GDP. In most developing countries, government procurement contracts remain one of the only ways to steer economic development by enabling local industry to develop. As is the case with the proposed rules for investment, WTO rules for competition policy and government procurement are presented as necessary for the creation of a ‘level playing field’. In reality however, equal competition between giant global corporations and smaller local producers in developing countries will lead to the massive-scale extinction of the latter.


 "Is it a dictatorial tool of the rich and powerful? Does it destroy jobs? Does it ignore the concerns of health, the environment and development?"

"Emphatically no," says the WTO Publication 10 Common Misunderstandings About the WTO. One of the outcomes of the Geneva Ministerial Conference in May 1998 and 50th Anniversary of the GATT, was an announcement by the WTO that it would intensify its PR strategy in order to explain the ‘benefits’ of free trade to the world. Concerned about the growing worldwide public backlash to trade and investment liberalisation, the WTO declared new measures to involve NGOs and civil society, allow better access to documents, and improve transparency. So far, however, the WTO’s efforts on these issues have been appalling.


The Commission’s Many Faces

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Sir Leon Brittan has used every conceivable argument to gather support for ‘his’ Millennium Round. While critics argue that the financial crisis and the accumulating evidence that economic globalisation causes widespread social and environmental damage demand a reconsideration of continued trade and investment liberalisation, Sir Leon has not wavered. On the contrary, the financial crisis, which according to Brittan was caused by "the mismanagement of the market economy", makes him "feel strongly that the introduction into the WTO of global rules governing investment is one of the highest priorities in the new round of global trade negotiations".[44]

n order to ensure that investment negotiations would occur, the Commission - claiming to have learned from the opposition to the MAI in the OECD - began to outreach to NGOs. "Wide consultation and open debate will be crucial for the success of the Millennium Round. Governments need to keep their electorates fully informed," Brittan reassured an NGO delegation at one of the ‘dialogue meetings’ on the proposed Millennium Round organised by the Commission for ‘civil society’ representatives since September 1998.[45] Business representatives, who also fit the Commission’s definition of civil society, were also present at these dialogues. The Commission also promised transparency and participation in decision-making in the proposed new negotiations, the publication of information on the EU’s website, and a ‘sustainable development impact assessment’ of the Millennium Round.[46]

The sense that the Commission had embarked on a charm offensive with questionable substance grew stronger during the ‘dialogue’ process over the coming months. During a January 1999 dialogue meeting, the Commission distributed a rather vague paper outlining its ideas for a WTO investment agreement which lacked many of the controversial elements of the MAI.[47] A week before, however, the NGOs present had received a leaked version of an earlier official Commission proposal. This version, which included nearly all of the elements that had provoked major opposition to the MAI, had already been discussed with the Council of Ministers’ 133 Committee (for external trade) the previous month.[48] Asked about the status of these two papers, the Commission’s did not move a muscle and stated that "especially on investment, the ideas are moving very fast."[49] Although a number of other dialogue meetings were held on issues such as trade facilitation as well as trade and development, fewer and fewer NGOs turned up.

Another blow to the Commission’s credibility came in March 1999 when it was revealed that it had been pursuing a parallel, and qualitatively different, process of "consultation and partnership with European business interests over investment issues" with the so-called Investment Network (IN).[50] The IN, representing Fiat, ICI, Daimler-Benz, Carlsberg, British Petroleum, Rhone- Poulenc and some 50 other corporations, was set up to identify the priorities of large European corporations for a WTO investment agreement. The Commission also surveyed more than 2000 European businessmen in order "to give a clear picture of the way international liberalisation and international rule-making on investment are perceived by the business community."[51]

The IN is clearly an outgrowth of the Commission’s experience during the Financial Services Agreement negotiations, in which it worked closely with the Financial Leaders Group. Recently, the Commission has also encouraged European corporations in the services sector to set up a European Services Network (ESN), which will "advise European Union negotiators on the key barriers and countries on which they should focus on in these negotiations."[52] In his speech at the first meeting of the European Services Network, Sir Leon Brittan was frank about the central role he envisages it playing: "You are the driving force of the consultation system which we have established; my door is open for any matters of concern. And I expect that whenever the overall ESN comes to some conclusions, these will represent the views of the industry, although I will also be ready to listen to the problems of individual companies."[53]

The ESN is closely related to the European Service Leaders Group (ESLG), which consists of over 40 chairmen and CEOs from various sectors ranging from banking to energy services. The ESLG is supposed to "give the political impetus and a high public profile" to the new GATS negotiations starting in the year 2000. The active encouragement of the creation of new business structures by the Commission to build support for the Millennium Round and to deliver input into the negotiations will surely strengthen its position vis-a-vis the EU member states. As US academic Maria Green-Cowles points out, "By working closely together, the companies and the Commission present the member states with a negotiating strategy ‘pre-approved’ by European industry."[54]

Business Offensive for the Millennium Round

"We want neither to be the secret girlfriend
of the WTO nor should the ICC have to enter
the World Trade Organisation through the
servants entrance." -Helmut Maucher

A number of highly influential business groupings are concocting their own campaigns in support of the Millennium Round. A common feature of these strategies, following upon the lessons of the failed MAI negotiations, is a move away from the tradition of fierce opposition to social and environmental clauses in the WTO. Industry obviously hopes that this tactic will encourage NGO support for further liberalisation.

UNICE: a Softer Approach

he European employers’ organisation UNICE, for example, recommends that WTO negotiators secure the "widest possible endorsement by public opinion" while simultaneously "facilitating the expansion of economic activities, essential for achieving the goal of increased living standards around the world" and "reconciling liberalisation of international trade and investment with the realisation of other objectives of general interest, such as economic development of the least-developed countries, application of internationally accepted labour standards and protection of consumers or the environment."[56] Although UNICE is very keen on a WTO investment agreement, including the MAI’s broad definition of investment and unlimited national treatment for foreign investors, it judges that unrestricted market access and full scale liberalisation is not feasible in the short-term. UNICE is an active participant in the Commission’s dialogues with civil society on the Millennium Round, and with an unusually soft approach. However, the group also has its own separate meetings with the Commission where the rethorics are likely to be less geared towards soothing NGO concerns.

The Commission’s ‘Green’ Carrot

EU Commissioner Brittan has also become increasingly vocal about the ‘mainstreaming’ of environment in the new round. Although still claiming that trade and investment liberalisation is entirely consistent with sustainable development, he has come some way in adopting green NGO demands on strengthening the position of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) as well as the relevance of judging products on the process and production methods applied, allowing eco-labelling and using of the precautionary principle. Many of these demands, however, have been rejected by southern governments. They fear that it will be used to intensify the use of trade instruments to protect northern interests, and that it will shift the environmental burden to Third World countries. Many northern citizens’ organisations also distrust the Commission’s promises and stress that adding vague clauses is no real solution for an institution which globalises highly unjust and unsustainable consumption and production patters.[57]They insist upon a moratorium on further trade and investment liberalisation until the WTO system has been fundamentally reformed.

ERT: a GATT for Investment

The European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) has a long history of deep involvement in the push for investment liberalisation, its main objective being an agreement within the WTO. As early as 1993, the ERT stressed the need for "a GATT for investment" to "lock in the process of liberalisation."[58] This wish has been repeated in the five reports on investment produced by the ERT’s North-South working group since 1993. The failure of the MAI negotiations in the OECD came as a nasty surprise to the Roundtable, but as Secretary-General Wim Philippa explained, the ERT soon afterwards "indicated to the Commission that we would very much like to work along with the Commission and with the WTO if that eventually will become the partner, to try to speed up an acceptable MAI."[59]

The ERT has established a separate working group on foreign economic relations, chaired by Peter Sutherland, currently chairman of BP and Associate of Goldman Sachs International.[60] Philippa clearly regards Sutherland, the former GATT Director-General, as the ERT’s secret weapon. He explains that "his knowledge, his experience, his contacts, his channels" will make the ERT "more proactive" and give it "a possibility to speed up matters."[61] The work plan of the ERT to prepare the path for a MAI in the WTO includes an ERT delegation to go to the WTO and have a dialogue with them and to assist, guide, help the Commission to come up with a solid paper, a solid document, which should be acceptable to the wide audience. The ERT’s new pragmatic approach includes accepting social and environmental clauses in the WTO, as Philippa explains: "We cannot circumvent. We have to accept the situation that environmental and social issues will become of more and more importance."[62]

Transatlantic Business Consensus

The over 100 corporate leaders involved in the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) have a formal role, advising the EU and US administrations on their positions in WTO negotiations. As the crisis in the OECD MAI negotiations deepened, the TABD was increasingly split along Atlantic lines. At the November 1998 TABD summit in Charlotte, North Carolina, EU industry lobbied hard to convince its US counterparts, which had not yet abandoned the OECD dream, to join their offensive for an investment treaty in the WTO. According to European TABD spokesperson Stephen Johnston, "We have decided to work in the WTO. The TABD has regrouped."[63]

The consensus reached within the TABD is reflected in the mid-year report that it submitted to the EU-US Summit in June 1999, in which they call for a ‘broad-based’ round of negotiations to be concluded in three years.[64] The new round should be flexible, so "when an agreement with a critical mass is reached it can be implemented rather than waiting for the conclusion of all other negotiations."[65] The TABD wish list for the Millennium Round largely mirrors the EU proposal of expanding the WTO s build-in agenda (agriculture, services and TRIPs), with liberalisation negotiations on a range of further issues such as investment, government procurement, trade facilitation and industrial tariffs. The TABD’s wish list also includes socalled ‘deliverables’ to be finalised in November 1999 at the Seattle conference, among them controversial agreements on forest products and electronic commerce. As for environment and competition policy the TABD is far less ambitious: the mid-year report recommends to continue with ongoing studies. The TABD expects that it will be able to have an impact on the WTO Ministerial in November 1999. As Johnston explains, "Once you have a powerful agreement, even if it is the day before, that will make a difference for what the people say."[66]

ICC: Revolving Doors

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), one of the most heavyweight corporate players behind the MAI, is also the international business grouping with the closest links to the WTO Secretariat. Stefano Bertasi, head of the ICC Working Group on Trade and Investment, explains: "We’ve always had, throughout the years, a very close working relationship with the WTO, because obviously they deal with issues which are central to business interests. The ICC has always been a vector for business input into WTO work, since its creation, [and] since the creation of the WTO and the beginning of the multilateral trade negotiations."[67] The ICC’s strategy to influence the process, Bertasi explains, "is done in two ways: directly through the intergovernmental organisations, and through the member governments of those organisations through our national committees."[68] Part of the explanation for the handy connections with the WTO is the fact that the ICC working group on International Trade and Investment Policy is headed by Arthur Dunkel, Director- General of the GATT during the Uruguay Round.[69] Dunkel is also a registered WTO dispute panellist and a board member of Nestlé.

The ICC has a long tradition of massive lobbying campaigns to influence WTO negotiations, including a six-month campaign in the run-up to the first Ministerial Conference in Singapore. Decisions taken there to remove tariffs on information technology products and to establish new working groups on investment and competition "met the business agenda for further trade liberalisation as spelled out by the ICC."[70] In the second half of 1998, the ICC began to gear up for the proposed Millennium Round. "We have already had several informal contacts with the WTO on the new issues that they are looking at," says Bertasi.[71]

The ICC’s campaign towards the Seattle Ministerial Conference was kicked off on May 20th, when a top level ICC delegation (including its President Adnan Kassar, vice- Presidents Richard McCormick from US WEST and Nestlé's Helmut Maucher, Secretary General Maria Livanos Cattaui and the chairman of ICC Germany Ludger Staby), met with German chancellor Schroeder to bring him the ICC’s demands for the G-8 Summit two weeks later. The ICC’s agenda, like the other corporate groupings, doubles the new issues proposed by the European Commission (investment, government procurement, and trade facilitation). The ICC statement however hardly shows any signs of a softer, more consensus seeking line. In its message the ICC calls the G-8 governments to ensure that Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and eco-labelling schemes do not get in the way of free trade. Hungry for a global investment agreement, the ICC is very busy trying to persuade developing country governments that such a deal would be in their interest. ‘If ever there was a piece of international legislation that is in the interests of the developing world, it is a comprehensive and uniform agreement to govern foreign direct investment’, ICC secretary-general Maria Livanos claimed during a recent visit to South Africa.[72] One can only hope that the South African government will listen to the many citizen’s groups who leave no doubt about their opposition to the ‘neocolonial’ corporate investment agenda as promoted by the ICC.[73]

Fighting the WTO Millennium Bug

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Citizens’ groups in both North and South are increasingly turning against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) due to its abysmal social and environmental record. In Southern countries, public awareness about the trade body is growing, and peoples’ movements are mobilising against the free trade agenda. This is evident in countries like India, where hundreds of thousands of people have joined public demonstrations against the WTO. Also more and more parliamentarians in Southern countries are demanding fundamental changes in the WTO Agreements which they signed without fully understanding the implications.

significant number of developing country governments, including India, Pakistan and Egypt, have been very vocal about their opposition to the new round, preferring to stick with the built-in agenda and to make existing agreements more development-friendly. After a few years of experience within the WTO system, many Southern governments are more confident about their positions, and may not back down to US and EU pressure as easily as they have done in the past.

The Commission’s offensive to achieve another quantum leap in trade and investment liberalisation will predictably cause a further deepening of the social and environmental crisis in a global economic system that is clearly not Millennium proof. Only time will tell how successful the Commission’s attempt to seduce ‘civil society’ has been. Although the greenwashing tactics will, without doubt, persuade some NGOs, campaigning against the proposed Millennium Round is quickly on the rise. A March 1999 statement rejecting the idea of such a new round has by June already been signed by seven hundred citizens’ groups from all over the world. The NGOs demand "a moratorium on any new issues or further negotiations that expand the scope and power of the WTO."[74] Instead they propose a fundamental review of the WTO system, stressing the need to "change course and develop an alternative, humane and sustainable international system of trade and investment relations." A condition for any positive change is that governments move away from the disastrous habit of shaping their international trade policies around the interests of large TNCs. The existing WTO agreements that are the result of this deeply flawed approach are increasingly losing legitimacy, as is the WTO as an institution. Indeed, the opposition against the attempt to consolidate the failed model of neoliberal globalisation through a Millennium Round is one of the major struggles for a turn towards a more just and sustainable global economy at the edge of the new millennium.



1. Peter Sutherland, speech given in New York City on 3 March 1994. | Back to Text |

2. Josh Karliner, The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization, Sierra Club, 1998.  | Back to Text |

3. The MAI Shell Game, Public Citizen.URL: http://www.tradewatch.org/Shell_Game/Cover.htm   | Back to Text |

4. Letter from Mickey Kantor to Bob Drake, President of the National Cattlemen’s Association, dated February 8, 1996. | Back to Text |

5. Such as Brazil’s recent challenge of EU’s regulatory regime on the import of poultry. | Back to Text |

6. Ted Bardacke, "American Boycotts Start to Bite", Financial Times, 2 June 1997. | Back to Text |

7. Leslie Gevirtz, "Business Challenges Massachusetts’ Myanmar Sanctions", Reuters News Wire, 23 September 1998. URL: <http://www.ofii.org/newsroom/news/980923reut.html> | Back to Text |

8. Anne L. Wexler, a former White House aide, was ranked as one of the capital’s 10 most influential lobbyists in the January 1998 issue of the Washingtonian magazine. URL: <http://www.wexlergroup.com/bio_wexler.htm>   | Back to Text |

9. The Wexler Group is an independent unit of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., an international public relations firm. URL: http://www.wexlergroup.com/corporate_profiles.htm> | Back to Text |

10. Ken Silverstein, "Doing Business with Despots", Mother Jones, May/June 1998. URL:<http://www.mojones.com/mother_jones/MJ98/silverstein.html> | Back to Text |

11. The European Commission even filed a so-called amicus brief on behalf of the NFTC. Source: Reuters News Wire, 23 September 1998 (see note 6). | Back to Text |

12. "EU and Japan urge WTO to ban Massachusetts Myanmar boycott", AFP, Geneva, 22 Sept 1998. | Back to Text |

13. Myriam Vander Stichele, Towards a World Transnationals’ Organisation?, TNI, Amsterdam, 30 April 1998. <http://www.worldcom.nl/tni/wto/booklets/wto3.htm> | Back to Text |

14. Personal interview with Keith Richardson, Brussels, 21 February 1997. | Back to Text |

15. James Enyart of Monsanto, quoted in: Vandana Shiva, "Who are the real pirates?", Third World Resurgence, Third World Network, Malaysia, No. 63, November 1995, pp. 16-17. | Back to Text |

16. Edmund J. Pratt, "Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade", Pfizer Forum, 1996. URL: <http://www.pfizer.com/pfizerinc/policy/forum/current/article/rights.htm> | Back to Text |

17. James Enyart of Monsanto as quoted by Vandana Shiva, see note 15. | Back to Text |

18. "Edmund J. Pratt, "Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade", Pfizer Forum, 1996. See note 16.  | Back to Text |

19. Vander Stichele, 1998, see note 13. | Back to Text |

20. Stephanie Howard, Eugenics, a self-defense guide to protecting your genes, A SEED Europe, 1998. | Back to Text |

21. The CBD clearly states that there should be benefit-sharing from the use of genetic resources, taking into account the rights of local communities, while TRIPs only gives weight to the right of corporations. | Back to Text |

22. Aviva Freudmann and John Maggs, "Bankers, insurers celebrate WTO pact: deal puts financial-services markets under global rules for the 1st time", Journal of Commerce, 16 December 1997. URL: http://www.islandnet.com/~ncfs/maisite/fsia3.htm> | Back to Text |

23. Sir Leon Brittan in the Financial Times, May 18, 1998. | Back to Text |

24. WTO Financial Services Agreement to Come Into Force on 1 March", Agence Europe, February 16th 1999. | Back to Text |

25. Ibid. | Back to Text |

26. Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, "Financiele diensten: een hernieuwde poging", WTO-NIEUWSBRIEF, nr.5, November 1997. URL: <http://www.minez.nl/magazine/wto/w05.htm> | Back to Text |

27. Sir Leon Brittan in a speech entitled: "Europe’s Prescriptions for the Global Trade Agenda", Washington D.C., September 24, 1998. URL:<http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg01/0924slbsp.htm> | Back to Text |

28. Ibid. | Back to Text |

29. For an introduction to the EU’s decision making on international trade, see "Gender Mapping the European Union Trade Policy", WIDE 1997. | Back to Text |

30. Interview with MEP Michael Hindley, 17 February 1999. | Back to Text |

31. After the High-level Negotiation Session in February, only the EC, a number of EU governments and the OECD secretariat still hoped to meet the April 1998 deadline. | Back to Text |

32. Briefing note European Commission representative at High-Level Meeting on the MAI, 16-17 February 1998, Paris. | Back to Text |

33. Ibid. | Back to Text |

34. Mission Report, R.Plijter, European Commission DG1, Brussels February 19th 1998. | Back to Text |

35. Acting in Harmony on World Trade, European Voice 16-22 January 1997. | Back to Text |

36. Sir Leon Brittan in a speech entitled: "Europe and the United States: New Challenges, New Opportunities", address to The Foreign Policy Association, New York, USA, 23 September 1998. URL: <http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg01/0923slbsp.htm> | Back to Text |

37. John Cavanagh, Background to the Global Financial Crisis, Institute for Policy Studies, September 1998. <http://www.ifg.org/cavanagh.html> | Back to Text |

38. Associated Press, Thursday 3 June 1999. | Back to Text |

39. See for instance Trade Myths and Gender Reality, ICDA 1999 and Gender Focus on the WTO, ICDA 1999. Contact by email: <icda@skynet.be> | Back to Text |

40. UNCTAD, World Investment Report 1997. | Back to Text |

41. See for instance European Economy: Reports and Studies, No 3/1997. | Back to Text |

42. Tim Wall, "New WTO Investment Rules Cause Concern; Major issues loom for countries already struggling with Uruguay Round trade agreements", Africa Recovery, Vol. 10, No. 3, December 1996. URL: http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/bwi-wto/wtoinvst.htm> | Back to Text |

43. WTO, "Report (1998) of the Working Group on the Relationship between Trade and Investment to the General Council", WT/WGTI/2, 8 December 1998 (98-4920). Available through the WTO Document Dissemination Facility. URL: <http://www.wto.org/wto/ddf/ep/public.html> | Back to Text |

44. Sir Leon Brittan in a speech entitled: "Europe and the United States: New challenges, New Opportunities", 23 September 1998 (see note 28). | Back to Text |

45. Sir Leon Brittan in a speech entitled: "The WTO Future Agenda", at a "Meeting of the European Community and European Non-Governmental Organisations, Business Federations and Labour Organisations on the WTO Future Agenda", Brussels, 16 November 1998. URL:<http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg01/1711brng.htm>   | Back to Text |

46. The EC publishes information on its preparations for the proposed WTO Millennium Round on the following website: <http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg01/dg1newround.htm> | Back to Text |

47. European Commission DG1A, "International rules for investment and the WTO", public discussion paper distributed at a dialogue meeting between the Commission and non- governmental organizations in Brussels on Wednesday 27 January 1999. URL: <http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/mai/eu/euinvdis.html> | Back to Text |

48. European Commission DG1A, "Note for the attention of the 113 Committee, SUBJECT: WTO New Round: Trade and Investment", Brussels, 15 December 1998.URL: <http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/mai/eu/113invest.html> | Back to Text |

49. Notes made during EC-NGO Dialogue meeting, Brussels 28 January 1999. | Back to Text |

50. Commission document "Minutes of the first meeting of the Investment Network", Brussels, 27 November 1998. | Back to Text |

51. "Annotated Agenda Investment Correspondent Network", Brussels, 5 March 1999. In the annotated agenda for the March 5th meeting of the Investment Network, the EC explains the purpose of the process: "The current discussions between WTO partners show us that it will be difficult to move forward on all fronts in Geneva as regards our interests in investment issues. It is therefore crucial for EU negotiators to know where the priorities of European businesses really lie, with a view to building up a negotiation strategy in the longer term". | Back to Text |

52. ESN leaflet "GATS 2000 - Opening markets for services" | Back to Text |

53. Sir Leon Brittan in a speech delivered at the first meeting of the European Services Network, Brussels, 26 January 1999. URL: <http://gats-info.eu.int/gats-info/gatsesn.pl?> | Back to Text |

54. Maria Green Cowles, "The TABD and Domestic Business-Government Relations: Challenge and Opportunity", draft to be published in: Maria Green Cowles, James Caporaso, and Thomas Risse (eds.), Europeanisation and Domestic Change, forthcoming URL: <http://www.iue.it/Personal/Risse/Rissedoc/cowles.doc> | Back to Text |

55. Helmut Maucher: "Ruling by Consent", guest column in the Financial Times, 6 December 1997, FT Exporter, p. 2. | Back to Text |

56. UNICE, Forthcoming WTO Multilateral Negotiations. Preliminary UNICE Objectives. 16 July 1998. | Back to Text |

57. Through numerous combined impacts, economic globalisation poses a fundamental threat to ecosystems at the local, regional and global levels. To feed highly unsustainable production and consumption patterns, initially in the rich industrialised countries but now becoming increasingly globalised, corporations continue to exploit irreplaceable natural resources in the remaining pristine corners of the world. Intensive and destructive agricultural and fishery practices are replicated worldwide, causing huge environmental damage and threatening local food security. Sky-rocketing volumes of transport,fueled by ever-increasing distances between producers and consumers, are a major contributor to health-threatening pollution and dangerous climate change. See for instance "The Environmental Impacts of Economic Globalisation", forthcoming study by International Forum on Globalization, San Fransisco. | Back to Text |

58. ERT, European Industry - A Partner for the Developing World, Brussels, 1993. | Back to Text |

59. Personal interview with Wim Philippa, Brussels, 16 December 1998. | Back to Text |

60. Peter Sutherland is former Irish Justice Minister, was EU Competition Commissioner from 1985-1989 and GATT/WTO Director General 1993-1995. | Back to Text |

61. Personal interview with Wim Philippa, Brussels, 16 December 1998. | Back to Text |

62. Ibid. | Back to Text |

63. Personal interview with Stephen Johnston, Brussels, 26 January 1999. | Back to Text |

64. TABD Mid-Year Report. 19 May 1999. | Back to Text |

65. Ibid. | Back to Text |

66. Personal interview with Stephen Johnston, Brussels, 26 January 1999. | Back to Text |

67. Phone interview with Stefano Bertasi, 22 February 1999. | Back to Text |

68. Ibid. | Back to Text |

69. Dunkel is former Swiss trade negotiator and chaired the GATT from 1980 -1993. | Back to Text |

70. ICC, The world business organisation in 1997, brochure, p. 4. | Back to Text |

71. Phone interview with Stefano Bertasi, 22 February 1999. | Back to Text |

72. Maria Livanos Cattaui, ICC Secretary General, during a visit to the South African ICC national committee, 11 May 1999. | Back to Text |

73. See for instance: "Market Doesn’t Replace Need for Development Cooperation". African NGO Declaration for UNCTAD IX, Midrand, South Africa, April 1996. "The neo-liberal economic paradigm makes our governments unresponsive to our basic economic and social needs, forces open our economies to the advantage of external traders and investors and makes African countries ever more dependent upon the richer industrialised countries and their transnational corporations. Our countries are being recolonised, and the responsibility of our governments to us is being replaced by their responsiveness to the needs and interests of TNCs and their home governments." URL: <http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/bwi-wto/afrtrade.htm> | Back to Text |

74. Statement from members of international civil society opposing a Millennium Round or a new round of comprehensive trade negotiations, Geneva, 21 March 1999. URL: <http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/wto/wtomr-cn.html> | Back to Text |

Web Resources


Some campaign groups

ATTAC - http://www.attac.org

Corporate Europe Observatory - http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo

Common Front on the WTO (Canada) - http://www.sierraclub.ca/national/trade-env/env-guide-wto.html

Council of Canadians - http://www.canadians.org

Friends of the Earth - http://www.foe.co.uk/foei/tes/index.htm & http://www.foe.org

Focus on the Global South - http://www.focusweb.org

Observatoire de la Mondialisation - http://www.ecoropa.org/obs/

Green Group in the European Parliament - http://www.millennium-round.org

Peoples’ Global Action - http://www.agp.org

Public Citizen - http://www.tradewatch.org

Third World Network - http://www.twnside.org.sg

Transnational Institute - http://www.worldcom.nl/tni/wto/

World Development Movement - http://www.oneworld.org/wdm/


Some corporate lobby groups

ERT (European Roundtable of Industrialists) - http://www.ert.be/

EuropaBio - http://www.europa-bio.be/

Financial Leaders Group - http://www.uscsi.org

ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) - http://www.iccwbo.org/

TABD (Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue) - http://www.tabd.com

Governments and international organisations

European Commission (DG1) - http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg01/ &

http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg01/dg1newround.htm &


US Trade Representative - http://www.ustr.gov.html/

WTO (World Trade Organisation) - http://www.wto.org

Paulus Potterstraat 20 1071 DA Amsterdam Netherlands tel/fax: +31-20-6127023 e-mail: <ceo@xs4all.nl>