Gerak Lawan: Stop attempting to revive WTO because Doha is not solution!

Original Publication Date: 
11 June, 2009

Monday (8/6). Gerak Lawan (Indonesian Peoples' Movement against Neocolonialism-imperialism) organise an action in front of Ministry of Commerce, Jakarta, Indonesia. The action aims to protest the 33rd Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting, motored by the Government of Indonesia, on June 7-9, 2009 in Bali. Most of the people who come for the action are peasants, and they say that the meeting will be a desperate attempt to keep the near-dead WTO alive. Should the attempt is a success, liberalisation will be riding on a highway—particularly in the food and agriculture sector.

In the other hand, what lies beneath the meeting is believed to be a neoliberal agenda. As people know, neoliberal agenda, represents in liberalisation, speculation, deregulation, and privatisation, is the cause of the current crises. In the same time, the WTO said that liberalisation is the key to solve the current crises. Moreover, what countries now are trying to in terms of protection would be disaster for global economy. Meanwhile in the real world, this statement from the WTO (and its neoliberal supporters) sure is not even close with the daily facts.

“This meeting will only push for the U.S agenda to revive Doha. We saw it on the message written by the Ministry of Commerce,” said Henry Saragih, Chairman of the Peasants Union of Indonesia (SPI). Hopes are high for the U.S to continue talks over the dying WTO. “Our government should be more careful in this objective, not to support the neoliberal agenda by the U.S,” he added later. Henry said that the U.S is among the biggest countries who heavily subsidise Transnational Corporations (TNCs) in food and agriculture. “At least US$ 58 billion are paid to those TNCs to keep dumping cheap food and agriculture products to our market,” he said.

The action demands that the Government of Indonesia cannot follow this neoliberalism path anymore, and must kick the WTO out of food and agriculture. “Food and agriculture are not commodity, and not for sale,” chant the people in the action. “People all across the world should see the real bottom-up alternatives from the people, and not only the top-down liberalisation agenda promoted by the WTO,” people said further.

Lastly, there is also a warning for the 'war against protectionism' issue which also will be discussed in the Bali meeting. “The discussion in the meeting would not be substantial, as it would in the WTO system as well,” as the statement from Gerak Lawan said. According to food sovereignty concept, subsidy or protection per se are not the enemy. Their merit depends on how much the subsidy or protection cost, who gets them, and what they pay for. So subsidy and protection paid only to a large TNCs leading to dumping and the destruction of rural livelihoods are bad. But subsidy and protection paid to peasants to keep them on the land and support vibrant rural economies, assist with soil conservation, support the sustainable agriculture practices, and direct marketing to local consumers, are good.

Gerak Lawan is an Indonesian coalition aiming to struggle current neocolonialism-imperialism practices in Indonesia. Among the members are Indonesian Peasants Union (SPI), Indonesian Workers Union (SBI), Anti-Debt Coalition (KAU), Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS), Laksi 31 Student Action Committee (KAM LAKSI 31), Circle for Indonesian Democracy (LS-ADI), and Street Children Solidarity for Democracy (SALUD). ****