On Eve of Major WTO Meeting, 112 Civil Society Groups Tell U.S., EU: Stop Blocking Discussion of Strong Financial Regulation
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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