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APEC a “delivery mechanism for a damaging trade model”, says world’s biggest consumer advocacy organisation

Posted by gmarkets on 3 September, 2007

Lori Wallach, director of US-based Public Citizen, the world’s biggest consumer advocacy organisation, argued ‘APEC is another delivery mechanism for a trade model that has proven itself a failure for most people, damaging to the environment and damaging to democracy itself.” But the organisers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum should not fear a hail of stones or petrol bombs. Violence is not Wallach’s style, reported The Sydney Morning Herald, (1/9/2007, p.7).

Classmate and friend of Obama: At Harvard University, she was a classmate and friend of the Illinois senator Barack Obama, now a leading contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. They shared a cottage in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Obama editing the Harvard Law Review in one room, while she ran a public interest law centre in another room. But she is not backing her old classmate, arguing he is too close to big American companies pushing free trade against the interests of American workers and those in developing countries.

Australia “playing Russian roulette”: She argued Australia, with its traditionally strong public services, was “playing Russian roulette” by succumbing to US President George Bush’s free-trade agenda. “Whole sectors of the service economy that we think of as a human right – health care, education, drinking water – become tradeable goods, with guaranteed rights for foreign investors to acquire and then operate them with minimum control,” she warned.

“Free Trade” deals a method of exploitation:Under World Trade Organisation principles, Wallach said, US-based health maintenance organisations – which dominate a health insurance system that leaves 52 million Americans without coverage – could demand access to Australia’s market and undermine Medicare. Wallach, who oversees Public Citizen’s global trade division said “We have lost 3 million manufacturing jobs since the North American Free Trade Agreement and WTO came in, and real wages have gone down to 1970 levels, despite productivity doubling,” she said. She believes consumers are threatened by a trade agenda that deregulates all controls on banking and foreign investment, protects monopolies on patents for drugs and eliminates domestic regulations on environmental, food safety and labour standards. Wallach was to address an alternative APEC conference – Asia Pacific People for Environment and Community- at the University of Technology Sydney, on Saturday.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1/9/2007, p. 7

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