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Trade Talk

For anyone who has observed what is happening in the world economically, especially in the area of trade, it is clear that the poorest and most vulnerable people are being pushed further over the edge by the domination of largest transnational corporations," said CWS Campaign's Coordinator, Gillian Southey. "That is why Christian World Service believes it is time to Talk Trade."

March 31 was a key deadline in the latest round of international trade negotiations. After months of talks, trade negotiators failed to agree on the terms or modalities for discussions on agriculture and the New Zealand government made its first offer under the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services). The failure in agriculture came only months after the failure to reach agreement on TRIPS (Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights), in particular on access to vital medicine for developing countries, many of whom are facing major health crises.

For over a decade Christian World Service has followed trade negotiations in an effort to address one of the growing global injustices that contributes to world poverty. The growth in the control of economic resources by transnational companies has been at the expense of the poorest peoples.

Successive New Zealand governments have strongly supported the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and trade liberalisation policies. Market access, especially for agricultural products, is seen by the government as critical for future New Zealand economic development. Consequently the government has been prepared to make offers in the WTO beyond most other countries.

The New Zealand Government was one of the few countries to meet the March deadline on GATS but it did so after minimal consultation with the New Zealand public. The service sector under negotiation compromises many things that are essential to life including the provision of health, education, water, energy as well as areas like telecommunications, media, financial and retail services. Services account for 60-70% of the Gross Domestic Product in industrialised countries.

While the government has offered some protection on "public health, public education and social welfare services", it has still made huge opportunities for foreign control in other areas like postal services, maritime transport and aviation services. Neither has the government addressed major concerns about local government and Te Tiriti O Waitangi.

Christian World Service has produced two new reports on trade issues as part of the new campaign: Trade for People - not People for Trade. Talk Trade explores seven core principles that are the basis for the campaign and Talk Coffee looks at the coffee industry. The video study series, Making Change: economic challenges in Nicaragua, is also available. CWS is inviting people to join just change, the campaigning network. For more information please contact: CWS, P O Box 22652, Christchurch or