H S on Fri, 8 Aug 2003 22:38:51 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: [Nettime-nl] WTO-activiteiten in Nederland

WTO aktiviteiten in Iraq>

Privatize away

On the ground, the occupation forces are quickly working towards selling the
Iraqi governmental services to private companies. They are quite open about
their plan.

In mid-April, U.S. officials stated that they want the World Bank to
eventually act as the "neutral international body" that will be the
accountant for oil revenues, replacing the United Nations, which had
overseen the oil-for-food program (April 18, 2003, New York Times). The
World Bank is definitely not a "neutral" body; quite the contrary, it has
caused immense impoverishment in its agenda of privatization.2 For example,
as reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
(ICIJ), "despite World Bank contentions that it does not force privatization
on the poor, research by ICIJ and the bank itself showed that privatization
is playing an ever-increasing role in bank lending policies." [3]

In mid-May, Bremer announced that, within weeks, the Central Bank of Iraq
and a group of private banks would begin providing "substantial" trade
credits to finance the sale of goods to Iraqi ministries, government-owned
factories and private companies. Bremer did not say which "private banks"
would provide these credits, or at what terms the credits would be made. He
did reveal that U.S. and British companies were expected to be among the
first to benefit.

Bremer further revealed that contracts are pending to sell everything from
oilfield technology to transportation services and telecommunications to
Iraqi ministries. The sell-off of Iraqi companies and ministries is to take
place soon. Tim Carney, [4] the senior coalition adviser to the Iraqi
ministry of industry and minerals-i.e. the U.S.-appointed ruler of the Iraqi
ministry-said that dozens of Iraq's state-owned companies could be earmarked
for privatization within a year (June 9, 2003, BBC). Previously, the U.S.
occupying force had said it would wait until an elected Iraqi government had
been appointed before it would start privatization. [5]

Carney's Iraqi industry ministry controls 48 state-owned enterprises that
employ approximately 96,000 people in eight sectors including food,
textiles, engineering and chemicals. Glass and ceramics firms are to be
privatized within the year. Iraqi textile companies, viewed by the U.S. as
"money-losing firms," would be "dissolved"-meaning workers will lose their
jobs. Numerous other Iraqi firms would be sold to foreign companies;
already, the occupying forces have received a "string of inquiries from
overseas companies" (June 12, 2003, Agence France-Presse).

To create an optimum market place for U.S. corporations, U.S. officials plan
to change Iraqi laws. The U.S. administration is working on changing
economic laws and tax rates in Iraq (June 9, 2003, Star Telegram), and, as
the power in charge of imports to and investments in Iraq, the U.S. has
proposed a temporary "holiday" on customs and duties on imported goods (May
27, 2003, Chicago Tribune).

Bremer spells out the plan

On June 22, Bremer spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
[6] "Our strategic goal in the months ahead," Bremer said, "is to set in
motion policies which will have the effect of reallocating people and
resources from state enterprises to the more productive private firms. A
fundamental component of this process will be to force state enterprises to
face hard budget constraints by reducing subsidies and special deals."
Bremer calls for lowering subsidies and opening Iraq's borders, which he
recognizes will "increase competitive pressure on [Iraq's] domestic firms."
He states that this "competition" will "raise productivity," although
experience worldwide has revealed that such unprotected competition will
result in an increase in unemployment and the rate of exploitation.

Bremer summarizes his priorities for this "economic transformation." Each of
these acts makes the Iraqi economy more "welcoming" to foreign companies
that will rush into the country to privatize and exploit. [7] (Author's comm
ents on Bremer's priorities are in brackets.)

Start a thoroughgoing reform of Iraq's financial sector in order to provide
liquidity and credit for the Iraqi economy. [Liquidity for whom? What will
be liquefied? Who will supply this credit and for whom?]

Simplify the regulatory regime so as to lower barriers to entry for new
firms, domestic and foreign. [Lower the barriers without providing any
protection for the local industries, thus ensuring that the local industries
will be unable to compete with foreign, highly-subsidized industries.]

Review Iraq's body of commercial law to determine which changes are needed
to encourage private investment. [For "private investment" read "foreign

Lift unreasonable restrictions on property rights. [What is an "unreasonable
restriction?" Are property laws that place more restriction on foreign
ownership of Iraqi land and Iraqi resources regarded as "unreasonable?"]

Develop anti-trust and competition laws. [This is quite an interesting
recommendation considering that in the U.S., anti-trust laws are being
removed or go unenforced.]

Develop an open market trade policy providing for a level playing field with
regional trade partners. [Regional trade partners? Does Bremer mean that
Israel will be welcome in Iraq?]

Encourage the adoption of laws and regulations to assure that Iraq has high
standards of corporate governance. [Once again, how can the U.S. encourage
laws for "corporate governance" when, more and more, it is the corporations
that are influencing, if not running, the U.S. government, rather than the
administration governing the corporations.]

Develop accelerated training programs for business managers in best
practices and business ethics. [And what better corporations to invite into
Iraq as role models of business ethics than U.S. corporations who have
committed fraud and have blatant anti-union practices?]

In other words, the aim is to transform Iraq's economy into one that is more
hospitable to foreign corporations and strip the ground beneath the local
industries and local businesses and public sectors.

Who is in charge of the Iraqi public sector?

The U.S. forces are appointing "advisers" for each major Iraqi industry. [8]
The advisers chosen for the large, substantial industries need particular

Oil: The U.S. government wants to run the Iraqi oil industry just like a
corporation, complete with a U.S. CEO and a board of directors. The
U.S.-appointed chair of the U.S.-established "advisory" committee for the
Iraqi oil industry is Philip J. Carroll, former head of Shell Oil and Fluor
(a firm invited to bid on Iraqi construction projects) and with substantial
stock in both. He is also a major corporate player in Texas. Carroll has
indicated that Iraq might "choose" not to remain within OPEC, which would
serve the U.S. aim of breaking the oil cartel. The one near-certainty, said
Carroll, is that the future expansion of Iraq's oil industry will be driven
in part by foreign capital.

UN resolution 1472 (March 28, 2003) transfers "legal" control over Iraq's
oil industry from the United Nations and Iraq to the United States and its
allies. The oil proceeds would be used to finance the country's
"construction," the costs of an Iraqi civilian administration, the
completion of Iraq's disarmament (for those weapons that can't be found) and
"other purposes benefiting the people of Iraq."

Carroll and his oil buddies will make sure that the Iraqi people receive
their oil wealth. Just like they did in Nigeria. Keep in mind Shell's
experience in Nigeria: They were in bed with the previous Nigerian
dictatorship; they commit human rights violations against Nigerians; they
pollute the region and withhold Nigerian oil profits from Nigerians.

Agriculture: Iraq's agricultural industry will be run primarily by Dan
Amstutz, former senior executive of the Cargill Corporation, the biggest
grain exporter in the world, and president of the North American Grain
Export Association. As reported by Socialist Worker, "during the Reagan
administration, Amstutz drafted the original text of the main international
agreements governing the trade of agricultural goods. Amstutz's rules allow
wealthy countries to dump their subsidy-backed agricultural surpluses on
world markets, pushing down prices to levels that growers in developing
nations can't compete with." [9] Bush Jr. is continuing this policy. As
reported by the Guardian, Bush Jr. has stated that he wants U.S. farmers to
feed the world.

"Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is
like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission," said
Oxfam, the British aid agency in June. "This guy is uniquely well placed to
advance the commercial interests of American grain companies and bust open
the Iraqi market, but singularly ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction
effort in a developing country."

Media: The former director of Voice of America, Robert Reilly, has been
"entrusted" by the occupiers to "overhaul" Iraq's radios, newspapers and
television and manage Iraq's media, in order to sell U.S. policies in Iraq.
This pro-war, conservative ideologue believes that "delivering the news is
not enough.. We also have the duty to reveal the character of the American
people in such a way that the underlying principles of American life are
revealed." In other words, the plan is to continue to run the media in Iraq
to favor the state; the only change is that the "state" is no longer Saddam
Hussein's regime, but is now the Bush's administration and its free market

Bremer has imposed rules for press censorship. Newspapers that publish "wild
stories," material deemed provocative or capable of inciting ethnic
violence-or violence against the occupying forces-will be threatened or shut

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kees stad" <keesstad@xs4all.nl>
To: <nettime-nl@nettime.org>
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 8:03 PM
Subject: [Nettime-nl] WTO-activiteiten in Nederland


Op 10 september zal de vijfde ministeriele conferentie van de WTO van start
gaan in het Mexicaanse
Cancún. Verdere liberalisering van de economie staat daar op de agenda, en
zelfs uitbreiding van de
WTO naar allerhande nieuwe onderwerpen als investeringen. Afspraken in
Cancun zullen vergaande
gevolgen voor de hele wereld hebben. Er zijn dan ook oproepen om in de week
waarop de conferentie
begint, wereldwijd actie te voeren. (zie
oa.http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/cancun/) Ook in
Nederland beweegt zich een en ander.

Een overzicht van nieuws en achtergrondinformatie is oa. te vinden op de

Daarnaast is er een bescheiden infopunt opgericht over de WTO en kritiek
erop in de actiewerkplaats
Het Lab (onder boekwinkel het Fort van Sjakoo, Jodenbreestraat 24) in
Amsterdam. Die is elke
maandagmiddag van 12.00 - 17.00 open en elk donderdagavond (steeds va. 20.00
uur) zal daar een
specifiek thema dat met de WTO samenhangt, behandeld worden.
Komende donderdag zal dat het onderwerp LANDBOUW zijn, dat waarschijnlijk
het grootste
struikelblok in Cancun zal vormen, maar dat ook voor progressieve bewegingen
allerminst eenvoudig is.
Want liberalisering van de landbouw zal betekenen dat de EU en de VS hun
beschermende maatregelen
voor 'hun' landbouwsector zullen moeten terugdringen. Dit zal gevolgen
hebben voor de positie van
boeren in het westen. Tegelijkertijd zijn veel alternatieve
boerenorganisaties in armere landen helemaal
niet blij met het feit dat ze hun grenzen ook open moeten gooien. Het idee
om eerst de ontmanteling van
bedrijven als Unilever te vragen, is een van de zaken die donderdag in het
Lab ter discussie zal staan.

(de thema's daarna zijn: 21 augustus Investeringen, 28 augustus de wankele
fundamenten van vrijhandel
en 4 september: de Nederlandse Delegatie).

Daarnaast zal er vanaf volgende week een wekelijkse nieuwsbrief over de WTO
verschijnen, die gelieerd
is aan het WTO-zip-project. Deze zal onder meer verspreid worden via de
mailinglijst wto-ned (zie voor
aanmelding: http://www.xminy.nl/mailinglijsten.php).


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* Contact: Menno Grootveld (grootveld@nrc.nl).

* Verspreid via nettime-nl. Commercieel gebruik niet
* toegestaan zonder toestemming. <nettime-nl> is een
* open en ongemodereerde mailinglist over net-kritiek.
* Meer info, archief & anderstalige edities:
* http://www.nettime.org/.
* Contact: Menno Grootveld (grootveld@nrc.nl).