The Guardian June 28, 2000


WTO and World Economic Forum slammed

In an open letter to a conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 
the World Economic Forum meeting in Durban, South Africa, has been savaged 
by the South African Communist Party.

The letter, written by Blade Nzimande, the General Secretary of the SACP 
says that the World Economic Forum is best known for its annual tribute to 
the forces of global capitalism in Davos, Switzerland, the very forces that 
make life for the billions of people in the South increasingly desperate. 

The promoters of global capitalism have targeted the South, and Africa, the 
most impoverished continent, for more of their destructive attention and 
programs.

According to a report released yesterday by the International Labour 
Organisation (ILO World Labour Report -Income Security and Social 
Protection in a Changing World), globalisation has led to job losses and 
increasing poverty for people in developing countries.  The report states 
the following: 

* A quarter of the world's population of 6 billion lives on less than $1 a 
day;

* During the past five years the world's poor have increased by 200 
million;

* In the developing world, nearly a third of the population has no access 
to drinkable water;

* More than 40 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia 
live in poverty and this proportion is rising;

* Out of the world's 150 million unemployed, no more than a quarter have 
some unemployment benefit.

Denounce policies

"We therefore denounce an economic system that continues to shift 
opportunities, resources, and power away from those most in need. We reject 
the policies of structural adjustment and trade liberalisation which the 
WTO, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund coerce most of the world's 
countries into adopting. We call for the reversal of these policies and the 
introduction of humane policies which place people before profits and which 
rejects the 'race to the bottom' which animates the process of corporate 
globalisation", said the letter.

To place the challenge of the continent as that of privatisation and 
fitting to the agenda of global capitalism is really to set up the 
continent for sale, to be plundered by transnational corporations at the 
direct expense of the poor. As the SACP we are writing this letter to say, 
Africa is not for sale. Transforming Africa's economies must be through 
state-led infrastructural growth, development and poverty eradication and 
not through deregulation and economic liberalisation.

We oppose the continuing pressure on impoverished countries to accept the 
imposition of "intellectual property rights". This will deny developing 
countries access to basic and necessary commodities for a tolerable life 
and their advancement. An example of this is the continued denial of 
developing countries access to affordable medicines because of 
"intellectual property rights", which in reality are protection for drug 
companies and their massive profits.

We call for the cancellation of the burden of debt currently imposed on the 
countries of the South.

We believe that if the Durban meeting fails to consider the points raised 
in this letter and the demands being made by the increasingly strong global 
movement for economic and social justice, it will be a lost opportunity.

For socialism!

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