Integration for development, not Free Trade Agreements

Published: 11 May 2006

Joint event with the Hemispheric Social Alliance, Oxfam International and the Transnational Institute, participating in Linking Alternatives

In Vienna today, Oxfam campaigners dressed as EU leaders tore apart a map of Latin America and the Caribbean to symbolize the approach that the EU is taking to its trade with the region. The stunt, done with allies from the Hemispheric Social Alliance and the Transnational Institute, was timed at the beginning of an important trade meeting between the EU and leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Enrique Daza spokesperson for the Hemispheric Social Alliance said: “Free Trade Agreements in Latin America have an agenda of deregulation, privatization and liberalization that undermines peoples´ rights to access water, education, work, food, and health. While these policies remain, pledges in the official declarations of the EU-LAC summit to uphold human rights and democratic values, will be no more than rhetoric.”

Simon Ticehurst, Oxfam campaigns coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, explained: “Trade can be a tool to promote development but unfettered free trade agreements between developed and developing countries do not do this. On the contrary, without measures to take into account the differences between countries, trade liberalization can exacerbate inequality and undermine efforts to reduce poverty.

"If the EU is serious about promoting development in Latin America and the Caribbean it should stop pushing free trade agreements and get back to the table at the WTO where it needs to make better offers to unlock the [Doha Development] Round.”

Fiona Dove, Director of the Transnational Institute, added: “The EU talks a lot about development cooperation and political dialogue, but beneath the rhetoric it is aggressively pushing a free trade agenda. The ‘Vienna Consensus’ is unlikely to improve upon the Washington Consensus, unless that dialogue includes European and Latin American social movements. From Latin American farmers to young European workers, the demands are basically the same: for genuine, people-centered development, environmental sustainability and accessible public services for all."

Contact Information

For more information, please contact: David Vinuales on +43 (0)6765 764922