friends of the earth international
european, us services liberalization proposals threaten people and planet
HONG-KONG ( CHINA), December 16, 2005 -– With World Trade Organisation
(WTO) talks in deadlock over the 'General Agreement on Trade in Services'
known as GATS, Friends of the Earth International warned today that Europe
and the US administration are setting a dangerous GATS trap for developing
The EU and the US are also trying to convince unexperienced observers and
delegates that their empty ‘development’ package promised here this week
is going to benefit the developing nations.
At the same time, they are pursuing aggressive market opening in all
sectors, and are proposing to completely remove developing country opt-in
flexibilities in GATS. It is clear that Northern corporations and rich
countries, not developing countries, will be the main winners if services
"GATS could place serious constraints on the rights of governments and
citizens to regulate to protect the environment and people at the national
level, and their ability to control the activities of transnational
service corporations," said Friends of the Earth International trade
campaigner Alberto Villarreal.
"The way in which the US and EU are attempting to twist the GATS
negotiations is quite shocking. They pretend to give to developing
countries with one hand, yet are grabbing everything they can with the
other. The GATS negotiations need to be stopped. It's time to look at
their real social and environmental implications." said Ronnie Hall of
Friends of the Earth International.
GATS has the potential to drive privatisation of essential services and
create adverse environmental, developmental and social impacts. GATS
currently includes proposals to open markets in a wide range of relevant
sectors including energy (its extraction, generation, production and
transportation), transport, water, travel and tourism, construction,
telecommunications, financial services, health, education, park
management, waste disposal and sewage and agricultural services.
Access to water, a fundamental human right, is particularly worrying. The
WTO insists on turning water into a commodity and an industrial 'service'
sector, granting to transnational corporations the right to manage water
exploitation and distribution. Water liberalisation has meant bad news for
many people in recent years from Cochabamba, Bolivia (where water
privatisation brought an immediate 68% price rise) to Manila, Philippines,
where prices increased 500% over 6 years.
The European Union has already asked more than 50 countries to open up
access to their water delivery services. This plan promotes European water
corporations at the expense of the poor. European service providers
dominate the global water market. The world's top two private sector water
companies control 70% of all private water services between them.
For more information contact Friends of the Earth International in Hong Kong:
Ronnie Hall, Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaign (December
15-19) +852 6129 0419 or
David Waskow, Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaign (Dec.
15-19) +852 6127 8644 or
Alberto Villarreal Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaign>
(Spanish, English) +852 6127 0200 (Dec. 15-19) or