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  • Eyes on Trade is a blog by the staff of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (GTW) division. GTW aims to promote democracy by challenging corporate globalization, arguing that the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability nor "free trade." Eyes on Trade is a space for interested parties to share information about globalization and trade issues, and in particular for us to share our watchdogging insights with you! GTW director Lori Wallach's initial post explains it all.

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October 31, 2012

Halloween Start for Panama FTA Means Tricks, No Treats for 99% as Panama Makes Top Tax Haven List and Job-Killing FTA Deficits Rise


Despite Talk of Closing Budget Deficit, Obama and Romney Support Deal That Limits U.S. Tools to Counter Tax Dodging by U.S. Firms and Wealthy Individuals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The biggest scare of Halloween 2012 is the implementation of the Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which weakens the U.S. government’s ability to stop U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals from dodging taxes in Panama, one of the world’s most notorious tax havens. Passed in October 2011, the FTA is scheduled to go into effect on Wednesday.

Panama’s tiny $30 billion economy—smaller than that of Columbia, S.C.—offers few U.S. export opportunities. And many of the prospective U.S. business opportunities associated with the Panama Canal widening project were carved out of the agreement’s coverage. But the downsides of the deal are huge: As the U.S. government struggles to close its budget deficit, the pact restricts U.S. policies now available to counter tax evasion by U.S. firms and wealthy individuals who move their money to Panama. The pact also empowers firms incorporated in Panama, including offshored U.S. corporations, to use international tribunals to demand U.S. taxpayer compensation over U.S. policies, such as anti-tax-evasion measures, that the firms claim undermine their “reasonable expectations.”

“The presidential candidates are sparring over who would best crack down on offshore tax evasion and reduce our budget deficit, so it’s a sorry statement about the power of corporate campaign money that both candidates support a pact with the hemisphere’s leading tax haven,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “Deficit-cutting promises run completely contrary to this deal, which will limit the incoming administration’s ability to make U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals pay their taxes.”

In June 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which tracks countries’ tax haven statuses, reported that Panama remains one of a handful of countries in the world that has not passed a first-stage review of its tax transparency measures. The OECD noted Panama’s nearly unparalleled nonconformity on six of nine regulatory checks against tax evasion. Even the Cayman Islands did not earn that dubious distinction.

A 2010 U.S. Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Panama, touted by the Obama administration as significantly improving Panamanian tax evasion problems, has failed to deter banking secrecy on the ground in Panama, as the recent OECD report highlighted. A large loophole in the tax treaty allows Panama to deny tax information requests about U.S. firms and citizens if revealing the information is “contrary to the public policy” of Panama, a country that earns much of its revenue by providing tax haven services.

Congress passed the Panama FTA despite opposition from two out of three House Democrats and despite U.S. public opinion polling that revealed FTA opposition as the dominant position of Democrats and Republicans alike. Since then, the U.S. government has pressured Panama to provide large U.S. pharmaceutical firms with new monopoly patent protections that increase medicine prices. Panama, however, was not required to alter its banking secrecy practices or to change its two-track tax system, which provides tax-free status to foreign corporations, nor to eliminate tax-evasion tools such as bearer share corporations, which are owned by whomever physically controls paper shares with no recording of ownership transfers required.

Panama is home to more than 400,000 corporations, many of them U.S. subsidiaries, which amounts to one corporation for every nine Panamanians. The FTA’s extreme investment and financial services provisions bar the U.S. government from limiting U.S. corporations’ transactions with Panama-based subsidiaries, while granting the subsidiaries the right to directly challenge the U.S. government in foreign tribunals for U.S. regulations to rein in tax evasion. 

FTAs with Korea and Colombia were passed on the same day as the Panama pact in 2011. Since those deals went into effect, U.S. exports to Korea have declined and imports from both Korea and Colombia have surged, increasing the job-killing U.S. trade deficit.

The Obama administration’s claim that the Panama FTA “supports the President’s goal of doubling of U.S. exports to support well-paying jobs at home” repeats an identical claim made during the launch of the Korea FTA. Under that parallel deal, U.S. goods exports to Korea have fallen by more than $1.2 billion while imports have risen in comparison to 2011 levels for the same period. As a result, the U.S.-Korea trade deficit has soared by 34 percent, costing thousands of U.S. jobs. Both the Korea and Panama FTAs include provisions, borrowed from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), that incentivize offshoring of investment. In addition to limiting how U.S. officials may combat tax dodging by U.S. firms in Panama, the FTA grants special benefits to U.S. corporations that incorporate in Panama. These offshoring incentives include a guaranteed minimum standard of treatment, compensation for regulatory costs and the ability to sue the Panamanian government in foreign tribunals if it enacts policies that undermine foreign firms’ expected future profits.

For more information about the Panama FTA, visit http://citizen.org/panama-fta.

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October 25, 2012

Congress Asks Trade Rep to Stand Up for Dolphins Despite WTO

To commemmorate this week's 40th anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, twenty-two members of Congress sent a letter today to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, urging him to defend the U.S. "dolphin-safe" tuna labeling program in the face of the WTO ruling against the successful dolphin-saving label earlier this year.  Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, championed the letter, which follows one sent to President Obama in May.  

The letter calls the WTO ruling "misguided," saying it "has threatened to turn back the clock to the days when foreign fleets killed tens of thousands of dolphins each year in a tuna fishing free-for-all."  The letter notes that the "dolphin-safe" label has contributed to a 97% reduction of dolphin deaths in the Eastern Pacific in the last 25 years.  It further argues that the label cannot violate WTO national treatment rules as a voluntary program available to any country for tuna caught under dolphin-safe practices.  The members of Congress who signed the letter conclude that the WTO ruling "presents the United States with two equally unacceptable options: spend limited regulatory resources to enforce dolphin-safe tuna fishing requirements in oceans where dolphins and tuna do not intermingle, or allow Mexico to sell dolphin-unsafe tuna to U.S. consumers under a dolphin-safe label."  

The congressional letter comes as Mexico, which launched the WTO case against the U.S. "dolphin-safe" label, formally joins the U.S. and nine other countries as a negotiating member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  The TPP negotiations in December, to be held in New Zealand, will be the first with Mexico's participation.  Today's letter urges U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to "incorporate resolution of this WTO dispute" into the TPP negotiations to "ensure that we do not weaken or eliminate our successful dolphin-safe labeling regime."  In a press release, Markey said, "Moving this dispute into the TPP negotiations is a necessary and appropriate step to ensure that U.S. consumers know that when they are eating tuna, they aren’t killing dolphins."  

The signatories to today's letter are an eclectic mix of House representatives, including fifteen ranking members of diverse committees and subcommittees:

  • Natural Resources: Markey (Ranking Member of full committee), Grijalva (National Parks)
  • Foreign Affairs: Faleomavaega (Asia/Pacific), Meeks (Europe/Asia)
  • Transportation: Brown (Railroads), Larsen (Maritime)
  • Appropriations: Farr (Agriculture), Honda (Legislative Branch)
  • Education and Workforce: Miller (Ranking Member of full committee)
  • Armed Services: Bordallo (Readiness),  Davis (Military Personnel)
  • Homeland Security: Keating (Oversight)
  • Intelligence: Schakowsky (Oversight)
  • Oversight: Kucinich (Regulatory Affairs)
  • Judiciary: Nadler (Constitution)

For more background on the WTO ruling against the "dolphin-safe" label, click here.  

October 23, 2012

Tribunal Slams Ecuador with Largest Ever Investor-State Penalty

We were astounded to learn earlier this month that a three-person ICSID tribunal has imposed on Ecuador a $1.8 billion judgment, the largest investor-state award to ever come out of the private forum.  Having had a chance to look at the sovereignty-defying leaps of logic that the tribunal used to determine that Ecuador should pay the mammoth sum to U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), we’re even more appalled. 

Oxy launched the case against Ecuador under the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).  Last week, we reported that Chevron is attempting to use this same NAFTA-style treaty to evade an $18.2 billion ruling for decades of pollution in Ecuador’s Amazon.  While the second-largest U.S. oil corporation (Chevron) is using the BIT’s extreme investor-state system to run from billions in damages inflicted upon Ecuador, the fifth-largest U.S. oil corporation has just employed the same system to extract nearly two billion from the country.  It seems that Big Oil has chosen private investor-state tribunals as the preferred arena in which to attack Ecuador as its preferred punching bag. 

In addition to awarding $1.8 billion of Ecuador’s tax dollars to Oxy as the principal amount, the tribunal in Oxy v. Ecuador  ordered Ecuador to pay $589 million in backdated compound interest, plus post-award interest and half of the costs incurred by the tribunal itself (para. 876).  In sum, the tribunal handed Ecuador a penalty of at least $2.4 billion.  What does $2.4 billion mean to Ecuador?  That amounts to 16% of the country’s external debt and 11% of all goods exported in one year.  In more human terms, the financial drain is equivalent to the combined annual income of the poorest 20% of Ecuadoreans--nearly 3 million people.  Even at the average income level, the tribunal’s penalty amounts to the total income of a share of the country that’s equivalent, in U.S. terms, to the combined populations of New York and Los Angeles.  Of course, it’s the Ecuadorean government who will have to figure out how to finance the $2.4 billion, which is the same amount that it spends on health care each year for over seven million Ecuadoreans-- almost half the population. 

What events could have prompted such a massive judgment?  In May 1999, Oxy signed a 20-year contract with Ecuador and the state oil company to explore for oil in Block 15, a segment of Ecuador’s Amazon, and extract from any discovered reserves (paras. 112, 115).  In exchange for taking on all expenses, Oxy was contractually entitled to 70% of the oil produced, with Ecuador maintaining a right to the rest (para. 117).  The contract also stipulated that while Oxy could sell the oil, it could not sell off any portion of its rights to produce and profit from the oil without government authorization.  The contract stated that transferring the rights to the oil production without authorization “shall terminate” the contract, meaning legal annulment and forfeiture of investments (para. 119).  This provision explicitly enforced Ecuador’s hydrocarbons law, which protected the government’s ability to vet companies seeking to gain control over oil production in its territory, a particular concern in the Chevron-ravaged Amazon region (para. 121). 

One year after signing the contract, Oxy sought to sell off a portion of its investment in Block 15 oil production so as to gain capital and reduce expenditure risks.  In October of 2000, it signed with the Alberta Energy Company (AEC, a Canadian firm) a contract in which Oxy kept “nominal legal title” to the oil production contract with the government, but AEC purchased 40% of Oxy’s oil rights and agreed to foot 40% of ongoing costs (paras. 128, 129).   The two companies formed a “Management Committee” comprised of one AEC representative and one Oxy representative with the “power and duty to authorize and supervise Joint Operations” (para 136).  Oxy mentioned the deal to the government, but neither presented the contract nor sought government authorization for AEC’s acquisition of a significant economic and operational stake in the Amazonian oil project (paras. 147-160). 

After an audit of Oxy in 2004, Ecuador’s Attorney General determined that the confidential Oxy-AEC contract in 2000 had bypassed necessary government authorization and thus violated Oxy’s contract with the government, prompting him to initiate a process to annul it (para. 177).  In May 2006, after a long delay filled with a presidential ouster and political tumult, the government terminated the contract with Oxy and repossessed the land and oil equipment of Block 15 (paras. 199, 200). 

How did the tribunal, reviewing this evidence, determine that Ecuador should pay Oxy the largest ICSID tribunal-decided sum in history?  With 326 pages of logical gymnastics.  The tribunal found that Ecuador had violated its BIT obligation to provide Oxy with “fair and equitable treatment,” the single most successful investor claim in the NAFTA-style investor-state system.  To get there, the tribunal’s arguments took numerous turns, often defying Ecuador’s sovereignty, common sense, or both.  I summarize below five of the most troubling arguments, presented in reduced arithmetic form to underscore the tribunal’s “logic.”

 

Continue reading "Tribunal Slams Ecuador with Largest Ever Investor-State Penalty" »

October 16, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Chevron's Case to Block $18.2 Billion Penalty for Amazon Pollution

In the most recent development in the historic case against Chevron’s appalling pollution in the Amazon, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Chevron’s appeal of a lower court ruling last week.  In so doing, the Supreme Court produced yet another denial of the company’s attempt to block an $18.2 billion dollar judgment against the company in Ecuador. Chevron is trying to avoid paying the judgment that resulted from a successful lawsuit filed in Ecuador by residents of Lago Agrio in the Ecuadorian Amazon for massive contamination of the region between 1964 and 1992.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a ruling by a federal judge in New York, which had temporarily blocked enforcement of the judgment.  The appellate court asserted that U.S. law does not permit “disappointed litigants in foreign cases” to ask the court to “restrain efforts to enforce those foreign judgments against them, or to preempt the courts of other countries from making their own decisions about the enforceability of such judgments.”  The appellate court chastised the lower court’s attempt to block the Ecuadorean judgment, saying the move “risks disrespecting the legal system” of Ecuador and wrongly presumes that a U.S. court can act as “the definitive international arbiter of the fairness and integrity of the world’s legal systems.”  The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not hear Chevron’s appeal suggests that they did not see a compelling reason to question the appellate court’s reasoning.  

Despite having lost on the merits in the highest courts in Ecuador, and having been continually thwarted by U.S. courts in its attempts to halt enforcement, Chevron is not finished with its threat of a “lifetime of appellate and collateral litigation” to avoid complying with the judgment. The company is using the extreme foreign investor rights in the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to continue its campaign to evade justice via an "investor-state" case to be decided by an ad hoc tribunal of three private lawyers.

This is not the only instance of corporations using international trade and investment pacts to bypass the justice system of sovereign nations. In August, the Australian High Court (equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court) upheld the country’s landmark “plain packaging” laws against an attack from Big Tobacco. Despite this, Australia’s landmark tobacco control law remains under threat as Big Tobacco company Philip Morris is challenging the law under the Hong Kong-Australia BIT. The U.S. company incorporated a subsidiary in Hong Kong in order to launch the attack.

The details of the cases are different - the Australian High Court ruled to uphold its law on the merits of the case, while the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Chevron’s appeal of a lower court ruling.  However, in both instances, deep-pocketed corporations are using trade and investment pacts to bypass and belittle the highest courts, even in countries with highly respected and independent judiciaries.

Under the investor-state dispute settlement system enshrined in U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and BITs, private tribunals have awarded more than $2.5 billion in taxpayer compensation to corporations to compensate them for “lost profits.”  Despite such damage, these same rules are being expanded through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A leaked investment chapter from the TPP reveals that the pact would require all TPP countries, including the United States, to allow foreign investors to launch investor-state attacks on their governments, to be decided by unaccountable foreign tribunals. Understandably, Australia has so far refused to be subjected to the investor-state dispute settlement in the TPP, but the U.S. is still pushing TPP negotiating countries to put investor "rights" before their own public interests.

The conclusion of the Chevron case is being closely monitored, and will have consequences beyond Lago Agrio. Reuters reports that “oil companies are watching the case closely because it may affect other cases accusing companies of polluting the areas where they operate.” If Chevron is successful in its attempts to avoid paying damages for egregious pollution, other companies will have affirmation that they have a chance to circumvent responsibility for environmental destruction by using the extreme investor-state system. 

October 12, 2012

Contrary to Obama’s Claim, the Three U.S. Free Trade Agreements Passed a Year Ago Today Have not Boosted U.S. Exports

U.S. Exports to Korea Are Down While Imports From Korea and Colombia Have Surged, Expanding Job-Killing U.S. Trade Deficit; Panama Deal not Even in Effect

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Contrary to President Barack Obama’s claim in last week’s presidential debate that passage last year of free trade deals with Korea, Panama and Colombia have expanded U.S. exports, U.S. exports to Korea have declined, imports from Korea and Colombia have surged, and the Panama deal has not even gone into effect, Public Citizen said today on the anniversary of the deals’ passage.

During the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, Obama boasted that the three trade deals, which he supported despite overwhelming opposition from congressional Democrats, “are helping us to double our exports and sell more American products around the world.” Republican nominee Mitt Romney, meanwhile, named further expansion of such trade pacts as the second pillar of his U.S. jobs creation plan. However, yet another month of Department of Commerce trade data, released Thursday, supports the views of a majority of Americans who see these deals as destroying – rather than creating – U.S. jobs.

“Corporate donors to both political parties love these deals because they provide new investor protections to offshore jobs and rights to import products that do not meet our safety standards,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “But, as the government trade data again show, the actual outcomes prove that the majorities of independents, Democrats and Republicans who think that these deals hurt their families – and the country – have it right.”

Obama’s claim – that the three trade deals are boosting exports – does not survive a basic fact check. The Panama deal has not even taken effect. Since implementation of the Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), U.S. goods exports to Korea have declined by nine percent (a decrease of more than $1.2 billion) in comparison to 2011 levels for the same months, while exports to Colombia since implementation of the Colombia FTA have barely increased (by $358 million). Under the FTAs, the United States has suffered a six percent fall in combined exports to the two new U.S. FTA partners.

Meanwhile, imports from both Korea and Colombia have risen substantially since implementation of the pacts. As a result, the combined U.S. trade deficit with Korea and Colombia under the deals has jumped 29 percent above the 2011 levels for the same months. Using the same ratio employed by the Obama administration, this trade deficit expansion implies the net loss of more than 15,000 U.S. jobs in just the first few months of the new trade deals.

“In a presidential campaign dominated by the urgent agenda of job creation, it is a sorry statement about the domination of corporate money in American elections that both presidential candidates would tout NAFTA-style deals that most Americans oppose and that already have begun to cost more American jobs,” said Wallach. “Polls show that opposition to these NAFTA-style deals is one of the only issues uniting Democratic, Republican and independent voters in an otherwise extremely polarized electorate. Public Citizen will continue to track the damage of these pacts as we push for a new trade agreement model that actually creates American jobs and does not threaten our environmental, health and safety policies.”

Two-thirds of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives opposed the Korea FTA, and 82 percent opposed the Colombia FTA – the largest percentages to ever vote against a Democratic president on trade pacts. The Obama administration promised a concrete benefit for each of the pacts on the date of their passage: “greater U.S. access to the Korean auto market, significantly increased labor rights and worker protections in Colombia, and enhanced tax transparency and labor rights in Panama.”

But the facts show otherwise:

- U.S. Auto Exports to Korea Down: According to additional data released today, U.S. automotive exports to Korea have dropped by $26 million, a seven percent decline, since implementation of the pact, as compared to 2011 levels for the same months. Meanwhile, in the months that the Korea FTA has been in effect, imports of cars and auto parts from Korea have soared $1.8 billion above 2011 levels for the same time period – a 25 percent increase. The U.S. trade deficit with Korea in autos and auto parts has already climbed to $7.9 billion in five months under the Korea FTA – a $1.9 billion, or 28 percent, increase over 2011 levels for the same period.

- Unionist Assassinations in Colombia Up: A year after passage of the Colombia FTA and 18 months after the Obama administration announced a Labor Action Plan with Colombia to improve Colombia’s labor protections, Colombia remains the world’s deadliest place to be a union member. In 2011, four of every 10 unionist murders in the world occurred in Colombia, with 29 slain. This year, a reported 35 Colombian unionists already have been assassinated, more than in all of 2011, the year the Labor Action Plan was announced. Sadly, Colombian unions and human rights organizations predicted on-the-ground realities would not change, denouncing the action plan as a series of cosmetic changes. Since implementation of the FTA, imports from Colombia have increased by nine percent relative to the same period in 2011.

- Panama Tax Haven Status Continues: To counter criticism that the Panama FTA would assist corporations seeking to dodge U.S. taxes via secretive Panama-based subsidiaries and bank accounts, the Obama administration announced implementation of a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Panama. However, a large loophole in that agreement allows Panama to sidestep new tax transparency provisions if they are “contrary to the public policy” of Panama, a country that earns much of its revenue by providing strict banking secrecy and tax-free status for foreign firms incorporated there. In June 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which tracks countries’ tax haven statuses, reported that Panama remains one of a handful of countries in the world that has not passed a first-stage review of its tax transparency measures, due to nearly unparalleled nonconformity on six of nine regulatory checks against tax evasion. Even the Cayman Islands did not earn that dubious distinction. Despite the lack of progress, the Obama administration has indicated its desire to implement the Panama FTA “very soon.”

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October 05, 2012

What went down at the WTO Public Forum in Geneva?

In addition to building support for Ecuador's proposal to discuss financial regulation policy space at the World Trade Organization (WTO), members of the Our World Is Not for Sale Network (OWINFS) spent the week before the Oct. 1 discussion of Ecuador's proposal attending the annual WTO Public Forum in Geneva. Public Citizen joined an array of OWINFS partner organizations in seizing the opportunity to impress upon WTO member states that civil society stands behind countries' right to regulate finance.  

Opening Session:

Our own Melinda St. Louis asked the following question at the WTO Public Forum opening session (which was attended by over 700 government officials and stakeholders): 

“Rules governing trade in financial services were negotiated in the 1990s when financial deregulation was in vogue.  We believe that, to succeed, the multilateral trading system must make sure that it learns lessons from the global financial crisis.  The global consensus has now shifted toward the need for more regulation of the financial sector to ensure stability.  Therefore the WTO must ensure its coherence with that consensus toward more macroprudential financial regulation.  Many trade and finance experts have noted possible conflicts between WTO / FTA rules and some common-sense macroprudential regulations.  Recently labor, consumer and development organizations representing hundreds of millions of citizens around the globe signed a statement supporting a discussion at the WTO to ensure all members have confidence that WTO rules governing financial services could not hinder or chill macroprudential financial regulation. I hope this week will provide an opportunity for members and stakeholders to reflect on these lessons to ensure that the financial sector supports the real economy instead of spinning out of control and leading to instability.”

Director-General Pascal Lamy answered (paraphrasing):

“I’ve been debating this with Public Citizen for 10 years. Let me repeat as clearly as possible so that we don’t have a nightmare about something that has no chance of happening.  Especially in the financial services agreement – always and until today – a government can take regulatory action.  There has never been a case where a government was willing to take regulation that was challenged at the WTO.  Many topics deserve a lot of attention, but this one is already settled and any competent lawyer would tell you so.”

Continue reading "What went down at the WTO Public Forum in Geneva?" »

Globe-Spanning Civil Society Groups Push Forward Critical Discussion on WTO Rules and Financial Regulation

Last week, we blogged about a statement signed by over 100 civil society groups from around the globe who are campaigning and putting pressure on their respective governments to support Ecuador’s proposal for a conversation to take place at a meeting of the World Trade Organization's Committee on Trade in Financial Services (CTFS).  The objective of the discussion is to clarify whether WTO rules provide sufficient policy space for the financial reregulation necessary to avoid another global crisis.  

Many of the signatory organizations engaged in national and regional level media outreach and advocacy, and were able to get articles placed in key publications and engage with important government officials in their respective countries.

On Monday, October 1, Ecuador’s proposal was discussed at the CTFS. While minutes to the meeting will not be available for quite some time, it appears that no country blocked Ecuador’s proposal. Below, find a summary of the great work that has helped push toward a discussion of this critical issue at the CTFS.

Media:

  • Center of Concern’s Aldo Caliari wrote a Spanish language piece that ran in Agenda Global in Peru and Uruguay.
  • Professor Kevin Gallagher’s op-ed, “Trade rules should not constrain fixing global finance,” appeared in Al Jazeera.
  • An article that appeared on October 1 in the Wall Street Journal noted that WTO Director General Lamy was forced to respond to questions raised about WTO rules and financial regulation.
  • Inside US Trade’s “This Week in Trade” linked to the sign on statement and Public Citizen’s press release.
  • The Brazilian Network for Peoples' Integration (REBRIP) translated and adapted the press release and sent it out to press in Brazil.
  • Trade and Gender Initiative worked to place an op-ed in the Nigerian press.

Outreach/Advocacy:

  • The European Consumers' Organization (BEUC), Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Finance Watch, Financial Services User Group, and the European Federation of Financial Services Users (EuroFinuse) sent an open letter to EU Commissioners Barnier and DeGucht, calling on the European Union to support Ecuador’s Proposal, and did media outreach.  
  • South African Labour organizations presented the sign-on statement and a specific request from labour to the South African government's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), asking them to officially support the Ecuador proposal at a high-level meeting of the Technical Sectoral Liaison Committee (Teselico).  Teselico is a tripartite consultative forum to discuss matters relating to trade negotiations, under the Trade and Industry Chamber of Nedlac, the social dialogue structure in South Africa.
  • The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBZ) engaged on the topic with Ms. Micong Klimes, a German representative to the WTO who serves as the current Chair of the WTO’s Committee on Trade in Financial Services.
  • The Argentine Federation of Commercial and Service Employees (FAECYS) engaged in direct advocacy with Argentina’s trade ministry, speaking specifically with Maria Ines Rodriguez, a ministry official representing Argentina in Geneva. The Citizen Forum for Justice and Human Rights (FOCO) forwarded a translation of the sign-on statement to other Argentine civil society organizations.
  • Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) reached out to Walden Bello, a representative from the Philippines, and members of CSOs
  • REBRIP sent letters to the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry and Finance Ministry calling on them to support Ecuador’s proposal.
  • The Council of Canadians forwarded  the statement to Mark Carney, head of the Bank of Canada, as well as Canadian representatives in Geneva, the trade minister, and opposition critics.
  • The Marcus Garvey Peoples' Political Party (MGPPP) worked to get the statement to relevant ministries in Jamaica and the Bank of Jamaica.
  • The Consumers Protection Association engaged in direct advocacy with relevant ministries in Lesotho, which chairs the influential African group negotiating bloc at the WTO.
  • Public Citizen circulated the sign-on statement to trade-focused media in the United States, as well as to Representative Barney Frank, co-author of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
  • Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) released a policy brief with analysis of the potential conflict between GATS / FTA financial services rules and capital controls.  GDAE sent the summary to its list of 15,000 academics, advocates and government officials.
  • The International Trade Union Confederation reached out to national affiliates in target countries to encourage them to sign on to the statement.
  • Consumers International circulated the statement to its member organizations around the world.
  • A network of organizations pushing for a financial transactions tax also circulated the statement.

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