Union Responses to Negotiations on the WTO Agreement on Agriculture __A Strategy of Exclusion
By Gerard Greenfield, Education Programme Organiser (Indonesia/HRCT East Asia) IUF-A/P, 7 May 1999
1. WTO Secrecy and Back Room Deals
There is no doubt that the negotiations over the renewal of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) in December will involve a lot of secretive, back room deals and trade-offs by government representatives and their advisors. Much of what will be decided will not be public knowledge until after it has been agreed. Mainstream news coverage is likely focus on a few high profile trade disputes (like bananas), report the views of agrifood TNCs and what they want from the trade talks, quote government leaders on issues completely unrelated to trade, comment on how unhealthy Boris Yeltsin looks, and provide nifty tourist information on Seattle.
In other words, we cannot rely on the mainstream media to unlock the back room deals. Take the OECD-MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) issue for example. Although many trade unionists and activists are well aware of this issue, there is still not much awareness among the majority of working class people around the world. The MAI issue, which all of us here are familiar with to some degree, was voted number 1 in the top 25 under-reported stories in 1998 by Project Censored.(1) I suspect that the re-entry of the MAI as the MIA (Multilateral Investment Agreement) in the WTO will probably take first place again in 1999. (....continued)
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