Waiting for Hong Kong to submerge

Today is the 3rd day of the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO being held in Hong Kong. All eyes and ears are pointed towards this small island where thousands of anti-globalization activists (composed of farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, workers, women's rights activists, social activists, and many more - the anti-globalization, anti-wto cause really encompasses all developmental issues) have gathered. Joke nga ng iba, baka lumubog ang HK sa dami ng tao.

This particular round of the talks is crucial although there are big signs that they will not be able to make any headways into their negotiations. The same stumbling blocks that led to the failure of the Cancun round are the same issues that threaten to make another failure of this round. The developing countries are asking the EU and the US to set a date for ending its farm export subsidies. The US in particular is being asked by African countries to end their subsidy to its cotton farmers. BBC.com reports that the African contingent threatened to leave the meeting unless progress is made. Walkout-athon na.

Farm subsidies given by rich countries to their farmers distort global markets, making it hard for poor countries to get fair price for their agri goods. This gross, unfair practice was dramatically highlighted in 2003 during the Cancun round. After successfully climbing atop the barricade, Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae committed suicide by stabbing himself in the chest. It's sad that people have to literally offer their lives so that the world at large can see the desperate plight of small farmers under the current negotiations in agriculture.

Yet another issue is non-agricultural market access (NAMA). The US Trade Ambassador wants "the WTO meet to accept the so-called Swiss formula whereby benefits flow from reducing the highest tariffs the most. This formula militiates against countries like India. India’s commerce minister Kamal Nath had pointed out that the NAMA proposal translates into a 75 per cent cut for developing countries as against a 25 per cent cut for developed countries," reports the Asian Age. He added, "Surely there is a mistake somewhere." Asus, diplomat pa talaga ang dating. Kung ako yun, I'd say "Pakshet? ano sila sineswerte?" Hahaha


Oh I so wish I am there in HK joining the protests and slew of activities and forums that are on going right now. Of course, my former officemates in Isis are there along with Indi who will be doing media work for them (interviewing people for radio and writing on-site reports). Radioactive Sago and Pedicab are there din to participate in the cultural presentation (yey, cultural diversity!) Si Lourd was excited when i talked to him several days ago. Sabi niya "sana parang yung sa Seattle."

It's a crazy business this WTO thing. Iba-iba rin ang pananaw ng mga activists. Some are calling for the outright dissolution of the WTO stating that no deal is better than a bad deal.

Others naman see the wisdom in having a trades agreement among countries, only the rules should be fair to everyone concerned and not just another means to enrich those who are already rich at the expense of the poor ones.

Me? Parang mas naninimbang ako sa pagbagsak ng WTO. We really need to change the economic structures that govern how countries currently negotiate each other. Globalization per se is not bad. Actually, if you look at it, it's really healthy. You can liken it sa internet and how with one click, we're able to connect to a global community and be able to expand our horizons in ways that our lolo and lola can not even begin to imagine.

It's just that the globalization that is at work today is the bad, abusive kind. Where rich countries strong-arm poor countries so they can dump their super-low priced products to the detriment of local industries and workers. Or establishing sweatshops, paying miniscule wages to produce over-priced, over-hyped luxury products.


Blogger soulcraftwriter said...

mare, i'm amazed and delighted at how you're so involved in these issues. i kinda remember our "anti-US bases" rally in UP a few years back. can't say i'm that aware of global issues. my issues right now are more "domestic" and "personal", if you catch my drift. so thanks for the info, will be looking forward to your next posts.

5:37 PM  
Blogger miranila said...

thanks, ella. i'll be adding your blog sa links ko real soon :)

i really had fun at last week's dinner pero sana next time hindi na kayo puyat at pagod para mas wild hahaha

6:26 PM  

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