January 27, 2003
COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
OPEN INVITATION CONTRIBUTIONS
Jo Marie Griesgraber
Trade and investment have great potential for creating sustainable development,
reducing poverty and meeting basic rights. Instead of realizing this potential,
however, trade and investment have contributed to increasing poverty, greater
inequality between and within countries, and a greater concentration of wealth
produced by the global economy.
Oxfam International believes that these contradictions are a result of the
unfair rules that govern trade and international investment, as well as the
double standards by which rich countries and large companies define their own
terms for inclusion in the global economy, to the detriment of poorer countries.
Oxfam International has launched the Make Trade Fair campaign, aimed at changing
international trade rules, especially those of the World Trade Organization.
However, parallel to the WTO, the plan to integrate Latin America and the
Caribbean into the Free Trade Area of the Americas is moving forward at full
speed. Some aspects go much further than the most worrisome WTO rules, as in the
case of investment and intellectual property.
In addition to the FTAA, the US is pushing for other bilateral and sub regional
agreements at an accelerated pace. A free trade agreement between the United
States and Central America (CAFTA), which reproduces the same framework of
rules, has been given particular momentum.
In 2001, 214 million people, nearly 43% of the Latin American population, were
living in poverty, 92.8 million (18.6%) of whom lived in abject poverty. The
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projections for
2002 indicate a poverty increase of approximately 7 million people, of whom
nearly 6 million are living in extreme poverty.i Any integration project in the
Americas should address this social reality, but the trade and investment
policies put forth by the FTAA do not promote sustainable development and
poverty reduction and could further intensify the scenario of inequality and
exclusion in the region.
Oxfam International opposes the FTAA and we, along with a broad range of civil
society organizations on the continent, propose that alternative rules be
discussed for a different type of integration, such as those put forth by the
Hemispheric Social Alliance and the continental campaign against the FTAA.
Eliminating poverty and promoting development in the Americas require radical
changes in the existing trade and investment rules. Oxfam International has
prioritized three themes: agriculture, investment and intellectual property, for
which we propose the following:
i Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean. Panorama Social de AmÚrica Latina, 2001-2002. November, 2002. Available at: www.cepal.cl