To advance the peasant movement agenda to stop trade liberalization and in preparation for the 9th Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and the Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS) in cooperation with Vikalpani and Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), organized the “Asian Peasants’ Strategy Meeting against the WTO” on March 1, 2013 in Sri Lanka. More than 20 peasant leaders and advocates coming from India, Nepal, Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka joined the event.
Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general and secretary general of the Alliance of Agrarian Reform Movement (AGRA), gave the welcome remarks. He said that, “After more than a decade and five (5) ministerial conferences, the WTO failed to come up with any solution to the global economic and financial crisis. We should remember that this failure is a result of and highlights the intensifying contradictions between the monopoly capitalist countries themselves, between the monopoly capitalist countries and countries asserting national sovereignty, between the monopoly capitalist powers and the oppressed peoples and nations, and between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the toiling masses.”
Sanya Smith of the Third World Network (TWN), based in Geneva, talked on the “Trade Liberalization (especially on the development in Agriculture) via skype. She also discussed “What is at Stake on the WTO”. This was followed by an open forum and a country sharing on the impacts of the WTO in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Nepal and Pakistan.
“The heart of the Agreement on Agriculture ((AoA) is the liberalization of agricultural trade by removing so-called “trade distorting barriers” such as domestic and export support subsidies. The AoA also obliges countries to open up its markets to imported agricultural products by slowly removing import controls and restrictions that further destroy domestic agriculture,” explained Zen Soriano, APC Southeast Asia coordinator and chairperson of the AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women) based in the Philippines.
Both APC leaders stressed that, “The WTO in Agriculture resulted in massive displacement, destruction of local industry, and increasing land and resource grabs. Reviving the WTO’s stalled liberalization agenda is an imperialist plan which would not solve the global economic crisis but would drag developing countries and other dependent countries to an even worse situation.”
“The WTO is further weakened by the economic and financial crisis suffered by the imperialist countries headed by the United States that dominate and maneuver the WTO. Imperialist countries are rushing for the re-division of the world for cheap sources of labor, raw materials, for markets, fields of investments and spheres of influence. With this in our mind, this strategy meeting has served as a venue in updating us on the WTO and has further united us in our position against the WTO. We will register our strong resistance against the WTO on its 9th ministerial meeting on December 3-6, 2013,” remarked P. Chennaiah, APC South Asia coordinator.
The strategy meeting agreed to sponsor country-level educational activities among the APC members such as the lecture series on WTO and to come-up with a video on the impacts of the WTO in Asian agriculture (especially on AoA). During the WTOs 9th ministerial meeting, the APC will hold coordinated rally in the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India. The APC will also send delegation to attend protest actions in Bali, Indonesia to be co-organized with the Indonesia Peoples’ Alliance (IPA) and the Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) on December 3-6, 2013.
“The APC will push for genuine agrarian reform as the real solution for the basic needs of the farmers worldwide. Advancing genuine land reform or the free distribution of lands to landless farmers will weaken the feudal base of imperialism and reaction and pave the way for national industrialization and genuine development,” ended Rahmat. #