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Local trade barriers targeted

JUST when you thought the World Trade Organisation was back in its box, up pops the news of another multinational organisation with similar intentions - to promote global profit making for big business above all other considerations.

The TABD – TransAtlantic Business Dialogue – is a hush-hush group of American and European CEO big boys who believe they have an inalienable right to pursue global profit.

Meeting in Cincinnati last month, the TABD urged for a new negotiating round of the WTO to force the US-European trade relationship into a deregulatory agenda that corporate watchdog Robert Weissman suggests, in his November 19th column in the Washington, DC based weekly Corporate Crime Reporter, will then be imposed on the entire world. Including us.

The TABD is not talking traditional tariffs. As stated in the TABD’s 2000 Mid Year Report, the successful removal of tariffs as “inefficient restraints on economic liberty” was achieved at the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - which also created the powerful WTO.

“The new obstacles to trade,” says the report, “are now domestic regulations. Non-tariff barriers to operations should be tackled with the same zeal as tariffs were reduced.”

The TABD wants uniformity or, if it cannot force a single global standard, at least Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) which allow products cleared in one country a free pass into another, regardless of the importing country’s regulations.

All is not lost, however. With groups like the Corporate Europe Observatory (www.xs4all.nl/~ceo) and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (www.tradewatch.org) getting the information about TABD out to the growing number of ordinary folks concerned about abusive corporate globalisation power, the TABD is being deprived of hatching deregulatory plots in secret.

The TABD won’t be stopped, but hopefully minimised; it is up to us consumers to make it so.

*Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants

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