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Further Reading: United Nations
REPORTS 2005:  Dec. 14    Dec. 19
 
WTO Negotiations Affect All Americans
Sixth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (WTO MC6) in Hong Kong 
Eagle Forum Correspondent Cathie Adams reporting from Hong Kong, China.
Dec. 14, 2005
The Protesters are coming! The Protesters are coming — to the Sixth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (WTO MC6) in Hong Kong, 13-18 December. The WTO, a UN specialized agency, was created by GATT, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade on December 1, 1994, during a lame duck Congress when Republicans controlled the House and Senate and President Bill Clinton was in office.

The WTO is in reality an international treaty with sanctioning abilities, which it has repeatedly used against the U.S. The goal of this conference is to complete a new global trade pact, with the demand that the U.S. and other "rich" countries slash their farm subsidies and reduce tariffs on manufactured goods from developing countries. For example, Bangladesh pays the same tariff bill on its $2 billion exports to the U.S. as does France on $30 billion in exports. "This is just not fair," complained World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz last week (USA Today, 12/12/05).

Thankfully, protections have already been set forth by U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) in his Rockefeller Resolution 55, which passed the Senate in November. Senator Craig commented, "Congress has made it clear time and time again that U.S. negotiators cannot bring back a trade agreement from Doha [a city in Qatar where farm subsidy discussions began four years ago and must be completed by the end of 2006] that weakens U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duty and safeguard laws that this Congress has put in place. These laws are widely recognized as critical tools to U.S. manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and workers who sometimes are forced to fight for their rights to compete in fair environments. As we open up the world’s trade, let us make sure that we have in place the tools necessary to keep it fair and balanced and not negotiated away."

During the six-day conference, protesters plan a series of demonstrations they call the "People's Action Week." In response, 9,000 policemen have mobilized their biggest security operation ever, warning they will not tolerate violence in this city of seven million residents (last week three protesters in a village north of Hong Kong were shot "by mistake" for trying to defend their property rights against government takings).

Fear of reprisal may be why the protesters in Hong Kong have thus far been peaceful. One creative protester dressed as a chicken carried a banner stating that the WTO is worse than the chicken flu, referring to the avian flu scare that some fear could become a deadly global pandemic.

While some of the protesters' angst mimics labor union demands, other items on their gripe list are sober concerns about the 53 points to be discussed by the 149 members of the WTO. For example, protesters oppose a guest-worker immigration policy known as "temporary migration of workers" or Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The global guest-worker scheme would subject every person's job to a willing foreign worker who would undoubtedly work for a fraction of the standard salary.

Americans will recall President Bush's call for a guest-worker plan, which is KEY to Senator Cornyn's immigration reform bill, but is NOT included in H.R. 4437 filed by Congressman James Sensenbrenner. Bush's proposed guest-worker scheme would destroy American jobs and our standard of living. A WTO-imposed guest-worker scheme would be even more devastating as the global bureaucrats would have sanctioning ability to force our submission to their sovereignty-destroying whims.

Citizens of Hong Kong have already experienced job losses as their reunification with Mainland China in 1997 allowed industries to migrate north seeking not only cheaper labor, but also to pollute without restrictions. Even though about 11,000 participants are expected to attend the WTO meeting, the restrictions on protesters are inhibiting the hoped for economic boost to local businesses, Citizens living or working near the conference venue have boarded up their windows as they must endure wire mesh across pedestrian walkways and increased police patrols. The Bank of China branch near the conference center is closed until Typhoon WTO passes over. Even manhole covers have been welded shut to prevent protesters from using them as missiles.

I will let you know what I learn as the WTO meeting continues regarding the guest-worker issue, tariffs and farm subsidies that will enormously affect all Americans.


 
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