Sunday, August 7, 2011

Traidcraft's Spotlight on the Global Trade in Raw Materials

In the "developing nations" of the global south, the era of colonialism is viewed as a dark period in human history. To be colonized meant subjugation to foreign rulers, outright exploitation of natural resources and labor with second-class citizenship for much of the non-European world. Entire continents were usurped of their riches through colonial policies aimed to expedite the transfer of local wealth to European coffers and raw materials to feed the expansive growth of European industries

Today, the term "globalization" has come to replace colonialism, and to replace the Gunboat Diplomacy of Western nations are the equally detrimental policies of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in cahoots with the World Trade Organization. 

Click here: Whose Trade Organization? by
Lori Wallach and Patrick Woodall
There is much to be said about the disastrous effects of narrowly focused vested interests of international bankers in developing nations with development projects that primarily benefit the established elite. However, Fair Trade Advocates also need to understand the equally destructive World Trade Organization (WTO). A highly recommended and reasonably priced resource is Whose Trade Organization by Lori Wallach and Patrick Woodall. This publication by Public Citizen ( is a well researched, comprehensive analysis of the organization, its function, and the secretive closed-door court system which enforces international trade policies formed by Western governments in collaboration with the Multi-National Corporatocracy. 

Before the WTO there was the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a 1947 international agreement to regulate trade governing tariffs and quotas for trade between nations. The World Trade Organization emerged out of the 1995 Uruguay Round GATT negotiations with incredibly deceptive fanfare and promotion. Wallach and Woodall summarize the difference between GATT and the WTO:

“Instead of setting terms for international trade – exchange between different nations – these rules are aimed at eliminating the diversity of national policies, priorities, and cultures to create the uniform world market sought by large multinational corporations… in which government would be shrunk and human rights and needs would be left to markets and corporations”  

Succinctly stated, the WTO Is Fundamentally Undemocratic.
Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the WTO from Global Exchange
[Global Exchange ( is valuable resource for Fair Traders!]

With this in mind, it comes as little surprise that the WTO, World Bank and the IMF are united in their mantra demanding "developing nations" to deregulate national markets, privatize of the public sector, and embrace free trade with "developed countries" as a means to develop national economies. Looking closely it is evident the unholy trinity are driven by a common agenda fueled by a flawed economic theory globally referred to as Neo-Liberal Economics by academics and economists; known by the far right wing in the US as Neo-Conservatism; labeled as Free Market Capitalism by the poorly informed Tea Party movement while Libertarians claim it as their own; and anyone with an iota of concern for the future call it exploitative, abusive, careless, excessive, destructive and unhealthy in so many ways. 

Within their war-chest designed to dismantle domestic policies aimed to develop and protect national economies is Foreign Direct Investment, commonly referred to as FDI. defines FDI as "An investment abroad, usually where the company being invested in is controlled by the foreign corporation... An example of FDI is an American company taking a majority stake in a company in China." 

However, in practice FDI has more in common with colonial practices than proponents would like to admit. Currently, the European Union is pushing for the deregulation of FDI in developing nations through the Raw Materials Initiative. When FDI is deregulated it provides multi-national corporations unfettered access to domestic resources with the freedom to drain all profits from the host nation with total disregard for the social, environmental and political impacts.

At the end of July I was contacted by Traidcraft, a UK charity whose mission is to fight poverty through Fair Trade, practicing and promoting approaches to trade that help poor people in developing countries transform their lives. They have released the video below and I encourage Fair Traders to take a look. Their campaign brings many important issues to the forefront and serves to remind Fair Trade advocates what it is we aim to accomplish by adhering to our shared principles: Global Trade Justice.

The Traidcraft campaign ( includes informative resources and avenues for taking action. To be informed is to be forearmed! Other awareness campaigns of Traidcraft include:
 Another terrific resource for Fair Trade advocates is Oxfam International (

Get involved globally by taking action locally!! 

It is important for Fair Traders regardless of where they reside to familiarize themselves with issues the global Fair Trade movement is addressing and how it relates to empowering the disadvantaged, providing opportunity for the marginalized, and integrating the disenfranchised.  

Mitch Teberg, MA


  1. Surely at this very critical time with the western world economies now on the brink it is time to re-think these important issues and put world trade on the right path?

  2. I think to only attack WTO is like shooting the messenger and not do anything about the real problem. Countries, rich people and hedgefunds are buying land like crazy and it is called "The New Colonialism." We did put together an article on it based on facts from The Oakland Institute:

    You will see that many of the methods are the same, beating up people until they sell their land and so on.

  3. Germany's Africa policy chief Guenter Nooke said that the destructive drought in the Horn of Africa is a man-made "catastrophe." He blames Chinese land buy-ups there for greatly exacerbating the already tremendous humanitarian crisis and causing social conflicts and conditions that rob small farmers of their livlihoods.

    How far away is the war about food in Africa?

  4. You're doing amazing work, Mitch, to be a voice for the movement. I'm trying to take the time to read all your postings. I'm appalled at the above video and wonder if our efforts are making a difference. We've been busy with the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition in Portland, OR trying to make consumers aware of their power. I'd like to repost some of your information to share with others. Is that okay? Possibly through our blog. I'd like to keep in touch with you more.