The Islamic Post Blog

Economic Partnership Agreement Focuses on Caribbean Products, Labor Exploitation by Khalida
October 3, 2008, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Latino/Caribe, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008 | Tags:

Regional Leaders Express Regrets, Frustrations

By Noora Ahmad, Islamic Post Staff Writer

The Deputy Director-General of Trade for the European Commission, Karl Friedrich Falkenburg, recently made clear the reality that governments worldwide have accepted the World Trade Organization (WTO), a global body of un-elected officials, as the highest commercial authority, and have allowed WTO laws to supersede the desires of elected governments and even regional bodies like the EU. “This is not a threat. This is not an EU community choice. This is what we will have to do within the WTO rules to which we have all subscribed…” he said. “This is not of my bullying. The EU has to play within the confines of a multilateral trading system.” the Director-General clarified.
Karl Falkenburg was apparently responding to the July accusation by Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo of the EU having used “bully-boy tactics” in negotiating the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the EU.
Earlier this month, the EU rejected President Jagdeo’s request to entertain a “goods only” proposal, which would have curtailed foreign investment and service-related trade stemming from the EPA. Acceptance of the proposal would possibly have put to rest allegations that the EPA threatens to flood the Caribbean market with foreign corporations, rendering the partnership a vastly unfair one.
“If you combine the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of all the countries in our region, it would be less than the assets of a large bank in Europe, so you can imagine how unbalanced, how uneven the negotiations are; because you’re not negotiating as two equal partners. They got their way because they’re essentially a bigger power and they can always threaten to cut off their markets,” aid the Guyanese president.
St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Stephenson King, like his newly elected Grenadian counterpart, Tillman Thomas, flatly says he will not sign the deal as it currently stands, IPS News reported.
The EU primarily imports rice, sugar and alcoholic products. If the EPA is confirmed by all Caricom nations, the EU has the potential, in turn, to dominate construction, tourism, sports, art and real estate, and most other service-related fields, not to mention the local food market.
Although technically the EPA is signed between individual countries and the EU, Guyana, St Lucia and Grenada’s refusal to formalize the EPA last month led Caricom to postpone the signing until October with mounting concern that the lack of unity over trade policies with the EU could spell overall trouble for Caricom’s projected Single Market and Economy (CSME). Caricom heads favor the idea of the CSME, which would give the region a single currency and codify commerce for the 13 English-speaking nations that make up the regional body.
While Trinidad and Tobago’s President Patrick Manning, who is also the chairman of Caricom, has been touring the region to build support for the CSME, he faces opposition at home on the project. “I wish to condemn the[se] actions,” said Opposition leader, Basdeo Panday,” “Such a serious matter as ‘political integration’ should have been the subject of a referendum.”
Former statesman and Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Shridath Ramphal, also feels Caricom as a whole is making decisions that are too rash; but he refers instead to the EPA. “We (the Caribbean people) have lost the capacity to manoeuvre,” he told Caribbean Net News, emphasizing that the Europeans initial, pause, review, come back, regroup. and then re-argue.
It seems that Caricom nations no longer have such options. When approached by Bharrat Jagdeo about having a goods-only agreement in the place of a full Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, Dir. Gen. Falkenburg replied, “Honestly my answer is no. I don’t see how that is possible. The chances of getting it are zero.”


Tent Cities of Homeless Spreading With Housing Crisis by Khalida
October 3, 2008, 8:28 pm
Filed under: National, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008 | Tags:
A resident of the tent city in San Bernadino, Californa.

A resident of the tent city in Ontario in San Bernadino County, California. The population of the tent city grew from 15 to 400 in one year.

By Safiyah A. Khafidh, Islamic Post Staff Writer
Tent cities are springing up across the country as people lose their homes and jobs, especially since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007.

“It’s clear that poverty and homelessness has increased,” said Michael Stoops, acting director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “The economy is in chaos, we’re in an unofficial recession and Americans are worried, from the homeless to the middle class, about their future.”

It’s a desperate move by people who have nowhere else to go.

A parking lot in Santa Barbara is now a refuge for folks sleeping in cars and vans. Authorities in Fresno, Calif. are faced with several growing tent cities, including an area where residents have built shelters out of scrap wood. Go up the western coast into Portland, Oregon and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups are working with non-profits or groups of various faiths in managing the tent cities.

Seattle is bust building for its influx of rich professionals who are occupying neighborhoods the working class lost, while the homeless search out inconspicuous, out of the way places, trying to avoid the police. “What’s happening in Seattle is what’s happening everywhere else-on steroids,” said Tim Harris, executive director of Real Change, a homeless advocacy group.

In Reno, Arizona, the officials are allowing the tent city because shelters were already filled. The tent dwellers are required to register, provided showers at the shelters and given references on where to find food and meals. However, they are subject to weekly monitoring to ascertain their progress in finding jobs and decent housing. According to Jodi Royal-Goodwin, Reno’s redevelopment agency director, there are “more people… homeless than we can remember.”

Nevertheless, come early October, the residents of this tent city will be moving on as the city has plans to turn the parking lot that they are living on into a complex of shelters and a resource center. Tent cities have been reported as far as Ohio and into Tennessee.

Developing Countries Send the World Trade Organization Back to the Drawing Board by Khalida
October 3, 2008, 7:05 pm
Filed under: International, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World | Tags:
The WTO General Council assesses the Doha Round, which suffered a major setback after countries in the southern hemisphere balked at the lack of assurance that they would not be overridden with unfair trade practices from dictated by their first world counterparts . (WTO Photo)

The WTO General Council assesses the Doha Round, which suffered a major setback after countries in the southern hemisphere balked at the lack of assurance that they would not be overridden with unfair trade practices from dictated by their first world counterparts . (WTO Photo)

By Muhammad Ahmad, Islamic Post Staff Writer

Director-General  of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, expressed his concern that the Doha Development Agenda for 2008 will completely collapse as a result of developing countries calling for more safeguard mechanisms after suffering the negative impact of food imports flooding local markets.
This stumbling block is dwarfed by another, earlier this year, in which the WTO had to hold an “extraordinary meeting of its dispute settlement body” after its ruling, which indicated European Union (EU) member bans on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be illegal and subsequently under termination, prompted the United States to seek compensation damages from the EU, as reported by Reuters in January.
Both occurrences illustrate the primary focus of the WTO, a body which sets the guidelines for global trade industries, serves well the interests of the international main players, often to the detriment of nations, rich or poor, as globalism itself is a move to strip nations of their own authority – which consists of national laws and boundaries– so that a one world order may exist. Such structures as the WTO have seen a large amount of success in this regard, using unelected delegates to impose global laws which stand over local legislation in a feudal display; but there are more unlikely dissenters in Europe.
The Prince of Wales recently came under heavy criticism from government ministers and also the British press when he expressed dismay that a prospective reliance on corporations like DuPont, Dow Chemical and Sygenta to mass produce GM seeds –-promoted as yielding pest-resistant crops with high yields– would be devastating to small farmers who would have to purchase, at high cost, the non-regenerating seeds each year. What should be debated was “food security not food production,” Prince Charles was quoted by the BBC as saying. GMOs, says the 60 year old Prince who has erected numerous foundations which promote organic agriculture, is a “gigantic experiment with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong,” again, as quoted by the BBC.
Although the WTO admitted a lack of progress in its 2008 report, the organization summarily lays the blame for increased poverty and lack of economic security at the feet of developing countries. “Among the questions explored in this report are whether countries have exploited their comparative advantage, realized economies of scale from access to larger markets, organized their industries in a more efficient manner, and benefited from the spread of technologies.” From this one gets a vision somewhat akin to a patient who has not taken medicine in the prescribed manner, instead of a lack of effectiveness of the prescription itself.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), in their own report entitled, “The Promises and the Perils of Agricultural Trade Liberalization,” like the WTO, could not help but give a view of how the uneven distribution of the benefits of global trade looks on the ground, but likewise claim that developing countries simply have not been absorbing globalist policies in a successful manner:
“Smallholders need government support and organization to ensure they benefit from new demand in niche markets and from the growing supermarket sector. The globalized economy offers opportunities for small-scale farmers, but they need sustained public support and organization to take advantage of them. Supermarkets and other buyers demand volume, uniformity, and timely delivery, which put smallholders at a disadvantage compared to agribusiness firms.”
Whether WOLA is suggesting that governments pay farmers through subsidies to purchase genetically manufactured seed, or is indicating that small growers should stop producing completely due to high food importations from large international growers (who take advantage of GMOs ) is unclear.


New World Trade, Revised Slavery

By Abdul Hameed A. Aziz, Islamic Post Staff Writer
In theory, globalization suggests that every nation has the ability to benefit from Globalization provided they have the ability to specialize their production to attain economies of scale and compete in the global market, thus providing falling costs of goods and services around the world, according to C. W. Hill in his work International Business.
Outside the realm of theory, the New World Order has provided the venue through which most Third World countries are being exploited for their cheap labor and products which emanate from their child workers, lack of environmental conservancy, safety, and decency regulations, and political and corporate corruption.
C.W. Hill made clear that in reality, national sovereignty, due to the rise in the economic supremacy of world banks and their association with international regulatory agencies such as the World Trade Organization, has been reduced to a point where governments answer to international agencies before legislating policies.
Anup Shah of Global Issues points to the benefit of corporate media to educate the mass public in a light that promotes global trade, to further their own expansion in the form of educative platforms and private university-sponsored curriculums, which use text-books funded by conglomerate and partially monopolized corporations.