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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."  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,  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.  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.  "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.  (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 investment."] 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.  The advisers chosen for the large, substantial industries need particular examination. 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."  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 dogma. 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 down. http://electroniciraq.net/news/981.shtml ----- Original Message ----- From: "Kees stad" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 8:03 PM Subject: [Nettime-nl] WTO-activiteiten in Nederland WTO-Activiteiten 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 website http://www.globalinfo.nl 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). (einde) ______________________________________________________ * Verspreid via nettime-nl. 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