By Kevin Stoda, Germany
DEMOCRACY NOW news shared on Friday that: "As the G-20 meets in Pittsburgh, a new report from Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch warns that the World Trade Organization has long advanced extreme financial deregulation under the guise of trade agreements and could undermine the current push for increasing regulation."
Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division, stated in an interview that, in contrast to their own rhetoric, many of the EU states (and the EU itself) continue to promote the most extreme and deregulating initiatives for financial services in the DOHA ROUND, even as they publicly push for finance rules to primarily protect themselves at the G-20 Conference yesterday.
Ms. Wallach noted at a DN interview Friday, "There's an incredible contradiction, where the summit communique' is going to, on one hand, talk about regulating finance, and at the same time, they're going to talk about adopting the Doha WTO expansion, and a huge part of that agreement is deregulating finance."
I would say that after having listened to several days of various publicly-owned German radio stations that the EU participants, especially the German Minister Steinbrueck, have been successfully spinning the G-20 conference as a big success--in a fairly cynical manner.
Wallach indicated in her interview that the EU participants are particularly promoting the current DOHA ROUND of the WTO while now trying to make a show of apparently new regulations, which only support the individual countries at the conference--made up of OECD countries.
Wallach said specifically, "And the problem is that the G-20 commitments aren't binding. It's a commitment of faith on the countries about what they're going to do domestically. But the WTO rules are very binding and enforceable by sanctions. And so, it's hard to know if it's ignorance or it's cynicism, but if the Doha round goes into place, all of the world's countries will have a commitment not only to keep in place the existing WTO deregulation dictates on finance, but to deregulate further, right in the midst of what seems to be a global commitment to re-regulate."
SHADOW OF DOHA and WTO: MORE AND MORE DEREGULATION OF FINANCE
Wallach charges, "Well, see, this is the most peculiar aspect of it. The European Union, as you just mentioned, Angela Merkel, among others, have been pushing for more regulation, and in fact they want the G-20 to have a--to establish a global floor of regulation. The US hasn't been for that. It's not going to be in this communique', but they've really been pushing. But simultaneously, it's the European Union that is the major instigator of deregulation."
The director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (PCGTW) division emphasized, moreover, "the big development is we at the [PCGTW] finally were able to get documents that actually explain what the plan is for the WTO Doha round, and it's the European Union that's been pushing the worst of it. I mean, they literally want a provision that is a standstill, a freeze in place, on regulation, while simultaneously they're calling for re-regulation. You can't have it both ways."
Since all the German parties are holding a national election on Sunday September 27 there is little wonder that Merkel and other political folks are trying to have things both ways. However, the system is unfair to non-EU and other more advanced countries.
The EU and USA negotiators at Pittsburgh seem to be quite oblivious to this clear fact that existing WTO backdoor rules to financial agreements globally currently override what nation states can do to re-regulate.
Wallach explains, "Now, obviously, Congress is talking about re-regulating, but in our WTO commitments, we've basically agreed, in the areas we've bound--and we've bound everything. We did take one very important exception in the area of derivatives. That would be for onion futures. We bound every other kind of security, stock, derivatives, but we took a reservation for onion futures. It's a really scary set of limitations. Now, it's obvious that there's an imperative politically to re-regulate. The question is, if sincerely there's going to be re-regulation, this backdoor deregulation has got to be closed. So the existing WTO rules have to be changed, and obviously the Doha round's further deregulation has to be stopped."
RECOMMENDED CIVIL SOCIETY ACTION
As she stated on DN Friday, Wallach makes a call for civil society and organized civil action, she called: "[W]e need to make such a ruckus about it that basically a huge spotlight is shined on the issue, because there are a lot of very powerful financial service interests. By the way, they are the ones who wrote, largely, the Financial Services Agreement, in cahoots with the government. There's a book from an American Express guy talking about how he and AIG and the others wrote these rules. Those guys want more of the same. I mean, one of the agreements that we found would be put into place automatically if the Doha round were adopted, as the G-20 communique' calls for, is a limit on accounting regulation, regulation of the accounting sector, that was co-written by Arthur Andersen. I could not make this up. This is actually the document. It's done. And so, the last thing we need are these limits."
See the whole interview here: