BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) / MONTEVIDEO (URUGUAY) / WASHINGTON DC (US) December 8, 2005 – Only a few days before the December 13 start of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Hong Kong (China), a new report exposes the danger that trade negotiations pose to people and their environments around the world.

Media Advisory
Friends of the Earth International
December 8, 2005

‘The Tyranny of Free Trade’ was produced by Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental federation [1].
Through a series of a dozen case studies from Denmark to Indonesia, the report highlights the environmental and social impacts that current‘free’ trade policies have in essential areas including forests, fisheries, food, minerals, water and biodiversity.
The new 36-page report asserts that. intensive agricultural practices and liberalized international trade are leading to social disruption, environmental damage and even hunger, particularly in developing countries. Furthermore, small-scale farmers are particularly vulnerable to market opening pressures and often forced from their land when it is converted to plantations or planted with crops for export.
Examples from the Philippines, Indonesia and the Seychelles support the assertion that the 40 million small-scale fishers who depend on the ocean’s resources to feed their families could be out-competed if the WTO cuts tariffs in fisheries as proposed. Trade measures used to protect small-scale fisher folk, including in developing countries, would have to be removed.
“The myth of unfettered free trade as a solution to poverty needs to be exploded. Regional and bilateral trade agreements running in parallel are as untransparent and as harmful as the WTO,” said one of the report’s authors, Ronnie Hall of Friends of the Earth International
“What we need now is a halt to trade liberalization negotiations and an urgent review of the impacts of international trade rules on the impoverished and the environment,” she added.
Current WTO talks aim at freeing up trade in a range of sectors from agriculture to services to natural resources. Because the poorest are the most reliant on access to natural resources, for food, medicines and fuel as well as a resource for their livelihoods, this could boost the enormous inequities that already exist in the current world trading system, making the poor even poorer and the rich even richer. [2]

For more information about the WTO and trade talks see:
Campaigners available for comment in Hong Kong
December 11-19:
Friends of the Earth campaigners (from Australia, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Mauritius, Malaysia, Norway, the Philippines, Switzerland, Togo, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay) will be in Hong Kong to expose how current and proposed trade rules negatively impact the natural environment and poor farmers, workers, fisher folks and indigenous peoples.

For more information contact:
In Washington DC (US) David Waskow, Friends of the Earth International
Trade Campaign + 1 202 492 4660 or email (December 11-19 in HONG KONG: +852 6127 8644)
In Brussels (Belgium) Alexandra Wandel, Friends of the Earth Europe: +49
172 748 3953 or email (December 11-19 in HONG KONG: +852 6125 7644)
In London (UK) Ronnie Hall, Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaign +44 7967 017281 or email (December 11-19 in Hong Kong : +852 6129 0419)
In Montevideo (Uruguay) Alberto Villarreal, Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaign +598-5228481 or email (December 11-19 in HONG KONG: +852 6127 0200)

[1] Friends of the Earth International is the world’s largest grassroots environmental federation with 71 national member groups in 70 countries and 1.5 million individual members and supporters. Friends of the Earth International does not have a member group in Hong Kong. ‘Friends of the Earth Hong Kong’ is not a member of Friends of the Earth International.
[2] According to the 2003 book ‘Making global trade work for people’ published by United Nation Development Program (page 33), “liberalizing trade does not automatically ensure human development, and increasing trade does not always have a positive impact on human development. The expansion of trade guarantees neither immediate economic growth nor long-term economic or human development.” The book is online at