World Trade Organization: Favors Flawed Oil Agreements?

 

By J. Yanqui Zaza



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 11, 2015

                  



 
 
 
 

Once again, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government is boasting that Liberia has accomplished a milestone-Liberia’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Liberia’s admission into the WTO comes after the Sirleaf government has signed many flawed big-business-concessionary agreements since her ascendency to the presidency in 2006. Predictably, many Liberians, aware of the cozy relationship between President Sirleaf and big business, are asking whether Liberia will benefit from its WTO membership. Why should this matter to Liberia when the country cannot export a significant value of commodities and, or services?

Most importantly, wouldn’t, investors, awarded with flawed concessionary agreement, delay or fight against amending the agreements, since legal recourse is available within the WTO? Even worst, wouldn’t Firestone, Mittal Steel, etc., violate current labor laws, environment laws, etc., if experts at the WTO perceived the laws as anti-business?

For President Sirleaf and representatives of the World Trade Organization, Liberia’s admission to the World Trade Organization is a victory FrontpageAfrica, 8/23/2015).  Mr. Joakin Reiter, Deputy Secretary of WTO stated, “…major benefit of the WTO is that it provides government with a power instrument for domestic reforms to accelerate growth, modernize, strengthen institutional capacity and enshrine the rule of law.” Also, WTO will create a platform to reform international market, said Dr. Cheidu Osakwe, Director of Accession Division, WTO.

Before I share my view on Liberia’s WTO membership, let me define what are trade and WTO. The Webster dictionary says: “trade is to engage in buying and selling for profit.” Adam Davidson of the NY Times magazine says, “Trade is central to every key economic issue we face. Whether it is the subject of income inequality, financial stability, the future of work, it all comes down to a discussion of trade.” In Liberia, trade includes Firestone selling latex to its Parent, Bridgestone of Japan; Liberia acquiescing to the World Bank’s loan with strings attached; or a merchant using a “Letter of Credit” from a local bank to import rice/medical drugs on credit from a foreign country.

WTO”…is a 142 member governments who try to sort out trade problems they face with each other…” or with companies operating within their countries. “WTO agreements…are essentially contracts, binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits.” Alternatively, “…it is a way to settle differences between governments or between companies and governments through some neutral procedure based on an agreed legal foundation.”

However, Global Exchange, an international organization, says otherwise and has published eleven points explaining why WTO is against the poor. Here are two of the eleven points: 1) “WTO is seeking to privatize or sell essential public services such as education, health care, energy and water…radio airwaves or schools… 2) “…many important decisions get made in a process whereby poor countries’ negotiators are not even invited to closed door meetings…” (http://www.globalexchange.org/resources/wto/oppose)

Will Liberia benefit according to President Sirleaf? The heading below, of an article called “How big business in the …U.S. and the WTO crushed India’s subsidies for Solar system,” might give us some understanding. The heading of the article says: “Four hundred million Indians—one quarter of India’s population—have no electricity, but as far as the United States and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are concerned, they can keep sitting in the dark.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/28/how-the-us-and-the-wto-crushed-indias-subsidies-for-solar-energy/

Several economists such as Mr. Gojko Barjamovic, an expert in ancient languages and culture at Harvard University agreed with some of Global Exchange’s points, especially the widening of the gap of income inequality. In their study, they included economic activities between 1890 B.C. and 1860 B.C. for one community in the town of Kanesh, what is now called Iraq. Among the parallels with todays’ economic activities, governments did enforce regulations and reprimanded wrongdoers. Another parallel was a privileged few gained enormous wealth. However, unlike today, the wealthy did redistribute a high percentage of their earnings, which was used to build public educational system, network of public libraries, public parks, etc., the economists reported.

The wealthy are not only reluctant to contribute a portion of their wealth to finance social programs, but have created a complex monetary system to generate additional wealth. Or as Adam Davidson of the New York Magazine stated that the rich has engineered “…basic architecture of a new global financial system in which “economic calculus,” not military and political power… would determine where money flows…”

WTO is part of that the “economic calculus” to shield and generate more wealth from flawed concessionary agreements, of course in collaboration with its sister-organizations (The World Bank and International Monetary Funds). The “economic calculus” begins with international companies providing the money that World Bank uses to loan to poor countries. Thereafter, the World Bank/IMF identifies which multinational companies (Mittal Steel or Bridgestone; parent of Liberian Firestone Rubber Plantation) will manage natural resources. So, indirectly, Liberia did borrow from Firestone.

If the adage is true that “He who pays the piper calls the tune,” then poor countries are not only indirectly under the control of the World Bank, but also are under the indirect control of international companies. WTO, with legal provisions, comes in to seal the financial relationship after the money-lending connection between the poor countries and the World Bank, and big business, by extension. As a member, investors can now file lawsuits within the WTO, even if local courts have given a ruling on the same issue. For example, the three-panel judges can determine whether amending any of the flawed concessionary agreements is good for business or not. In view of the get rich quick mentality, investors will not only fight against amending the flawed concessionary agreements, but might file lawsuits at the WTO to coerce countries such as Liberia to relax its environmental laws or allow Mittal steel to pollute the rivers in Liberia. That is why a country such as Liberia was lured into the WTO, even though its exports are miniscule to pose any challenge to the importation of goods and services.

jyanqui@aol.com

martin k scott
Hey Comrade J. Nikita Zaza! Liar liar your pants on fire! You're LYING (and you know you are) when say that " Webster dictionary says: “trade is to engage in buying and selling for profit."

"for profit"??

Here are the definitions of TRADE according to merrian-webster.com:


a) the activity or process of buying, selling, or exchanging goods or services

b) the amount of things or services that are bought and sold : the money made by buying and selling things or services

c) the act of exchanging one thing for another

As you can see, there's NOTHING in the above definitions that says trade is "buying and selling FOR PROFIT", so which Webster dictionary did you get your trade definition from? Lenin Webster?? Or is that the Soviet Politburo definition of trade?
martin k scott at 07:41AM, 2015/09/11.
skep-c
download my mixtape fam
skep-c at 03:45AM, 2015/09/17.
martin scott
Hey Comrade J. Nikita Zaza! It's smart for you to pretend like you don't read the comments about your posting, but you're a socialist and a proven liar!

Remember Jim Jones? Jones was a delusional cult leader. On November 18, 1978, (in Guyana) more than 900 of his followers drank cyanide laced Kool-Aid as part of a mass suicide pact ordered by Jones! The brainwashed followers of this delusional cult leader began by giving the poison to their children, and then taking it themselves. When it was all over, hundreds of dead bodies lay in the compound.

I feel sorry for the ignorant masses who keep drinking your anti-capitalist Kool-Aid..


martin scott at 06:58PM, 2015/09/20.
j yanqui
Hi Mr. Martin Scott,

I am sorry for not responding to your concern. For your information socialist
countries do make profits from trade. The state-owned entities make profits for the government, while private-owned companies make profits for shareholders in capitalist countries. This is part of the reason why socialist countries have huge reserves in cash, but capitalist countries continue to accumulate huge debts. For example, according to reports of the CIA, the U.S. owes 19 trillion in debts, while China owes less than a trillion. China trades in U.S. currency and makes profits. Also, the capitalist country (USA) borrows from a portion of the excess cash in reserves of the socialist country (China).

Sir, now you might agree with me that trade is not limited to the U.S. as you tried to imply. The difference is that China receives huge profits from trading its natural resources, while Liberia and other capitalist countries sell cheap their natural resources to multinational corporations.

Now, let us get back to the definition of trade. Chief, I did not limit the definition of trade to what is in the dictionary. For example, I stated that a trade is when a merchant uses a letter of credit from a local bank to purchase goods on credit from clients. Or, trade is when Bridgestone (i.e., Liberian Firestone's parent) purchases latex from Liberian Firestone. Further, I quoted Mr.Davidson, who stated that, “Trade is central to every key economic issue we face. Whether it is the subject of income inequality, financial stability, the future of work, it all comes down to a discussion of trade.” I am certain other readers did not put aside these examples and just focused on the narrow definition of trade as per your concern.

Sir, had I limited my definition to the Webster dictionary's, then I would have rushed to extend an apology to my readers for putting the quotation mark after the word "profit." By the way, do people get involved into trade for anything else besides "profit?" Please share the information with me.

People go into trade to make profit. That is part of the reason why people use the phrase "profit-making" and the phrase "Not-for-profit" to distinguish business/trade from those institutions that are engaged in humanitarian services. I am sure you will agree with me that the word "profit" is associated with organizations that are involved in business/trade, but not religion or government services such as health services, military services, educational services, etc.

Thanks for your input.
j yanqui at 04:06AM, 2015/09/22.
martin scott
Hey Comrade J. Nikita Zaza, I know socialism is your second language, (twisting the truth is your first!) but please stick to the issue at hand---okaaay?. The issue here is your bogus DEFINITION of trade, you liar!

In your article (see the 4th paragraph, second sentence!, you write that "The Webster dictionary says: “trade is to engage in buying and selling for profit." !

But you're LYING! (your pants is on fire, liar!)

Webster Dictionary (merriam-webster.com) DEFINES trade as:

a) the activity or process of buying, selling, or exchanging goods or services

b) the amount of things or services that are bought and sold : the money made by buying and selling things or services

c) the act of exchanging one thing for another

As you can see, there's NOTHING in the above definitions that says trade is "buying and selling FOR PROFIT", so my question to you is, which Webster dictionary did you get your trade DEFINITION from??

If you can't answer that question, then there is no point in responding to this posting.

martin scott at 08:46PM, 2015/09/23.
martin scott
Hey Comrade J. Nikita Zaza, I know socialism is your second language, (twisting the truth is your first!) but please stick to the issue at hand---okaaay?. The issue here is your bogus DEFINITION of trade, you liar!

In your article (see the 4th paragraph, second sentence!, you write that "The Webster dictionary says: “trade is to engage in buying and selling for profit." !

But you're LYING! (your pants is on fire, liar!)

Webster Dictionary (merriam-webster.com) DEFINES trade as:

a) the activity or process of buying, selling, or exchanging goods or services

b) the amount of things or services that are bought and sold : the money made by buying and selling things or services

c) the act of exchanging one thing for another

As you can see, there's NOTHING in the above definitions that says trade is "buying and selling FOR PROFIT", so my question to you is, which Webster dictionary did you get your trade DEFINITION from??

If you can't answer that question, then there is no point in responding to this posting.

martin scott at 08:47PM, 2015/09/23.
j yanqui

Hi Mr. Martin Scott,

I understand your concern, however, please use your pen to address the issues of Liberia such as the issue listed below, if you are not interested in the issues I raised in the article above.

"In June this year, GFI also reported that Liberia is ranked the second country in the world with the most illicit outflows of money. “In Liberia for example, illicit financial outflows reached 61.6 percent of gross domestic product on average between 2008 and 2012, and 80.6 percent of total trade volume. The money lost could have funded its health budget four and half times over, in a country where 63.8 percent of the population lives in poverty”, stated the GFI report."(Frontpageafricaonline.com, 09/25/15)

Sir, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has and continues to institute an economic system that would make it difficult for the next government to find adequate resources to finance the necessary programs.

The concern about the difficulty of the next government to fund necessary programs is real. If you have any doubt, check up the information released by the Bank of Ghana, a country in West Africa that was once perceived as an example of stability, transparency and productivity. The Bank of Ghana has indicated that, "Ghana data shows that the country's debt is now about 71 percent of total value of the economy."

This means that Ghana is now officially classified as "Highly Indebted Country" (HIC), a financial position that makes it difficult for a country to finance programs. In 2001, Ghana and other countries such as Liberia, considered as "Highly Indebted Poor Countries) did receive debt relief. Such a relief might "...not be available again," according to the former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana and NPP Vice-Presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia."

Debt is good if it is used wisely. However, Ghana is reported to be spending 70% of its revenue on wages. The Liberian story is worst. So, Brother Scott, please add your voice to the voices of those who are asking our government to search for anti-poverty programs.

Thanks to you for considering my recommendation.
j yanqui at 05:16AM, 2015/09/25.
Wouter
I love the handwritten lteetr RAOK. Just the other day I was putting away a box of my fall decorations and saw a box with things I saved that were important to me while growing up. I took it down and looked through it. I found lteetrs from my Grandma and Grandpa written back in the 80s. When they moved to a different state I would write them and send them copies of my report card. Of course the only way to do it then was snail mail. Those lteetrs are such treasures to me and I am so glad I saved them. I am sure your children will feel the same way.
Wouter at 03:54AM, 2015/10/16.
no down payment car insurance in
Big help, big help. And superlative news of course.
no down payment car insurance in at 02:02AM, 2016/02/18.
cheapest auto insurance Granger
Kudos to you! I hadn't thought of that!
cheapest auto insurance Granger at 07:20PM, 2016/02/27.

Post your comment

You can use following HTML tags: <a><br><strong><b><em><i><blockquote><pre><code><img><ul><ol><li><del>

Confirmation code:

Comments script


© 2015 by The Perspective
E-mail: editor@theperspective.org
To Submit article for publication, go to the following URL: http://www.theperspective.org/submittingarticles.html