Several trade unions including Alliance of Progressive Labor, peasant organizations, women’s groups, non-government organizations and political blocs belonging to the Stop the New Round! Coalition (SNR) today sent a letter to trade and industry Sec. Peter Favila to express their collective concern over a “possible compromise deal on Non-agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations” and called on the Philippine government to reject the compromise proposal and put development at the heart of the NAMA negotiations.
The latest proposal from developing countries led by Chile for a “middle ground” solution represents a serious break from the position of NAMA 11 of which the Philippines is an active member.
The SNR challenged the secretary to be the “leading developing country voice in NAMA 11 in calling for the rejection of the new NAMA proposal.”
NAMA is one of the more contentious issues in the WTO’s controversial Doha “Development” Round. NAMA covers all products not covered by the Agreement on Agriculture. It aims to advance further liberalization in manufacturing products, fuels and mining products, fish and fish products, and forestry products.
Despite the claims of the WTO, the SNR believes that the current round has effectively sidelined development. This is very apparent in the NAMA negotiations where the “US and EU want an ambitious NAMA formula” that would force developing countries to pry open their market for industrial and fisheries sector. The most contentious point in the so-called “Swiss formula”, adopted in Hong Kong during the last WTO Ministerial Conference in 2005, is the coefficient that would be used to determine the tariff cuts of developed and developing economies.
The Chilean proposal calls for a coefficient in the high teens or low twenties for developing countries and below 10 for developed countries.
The SNR said that a coefficient for developing countries in the high teens would be “a murderous compromise on the part of the Philippines.”
The SNR believes that “a compromise deal on NAMA would compromise jobs.”
In the Philipines, such an agreement would exacerbate an already acute jobs crisis. “Job losses could be expected in the motor vehicles sector, which employs around 39,000, the apparel sector with an even bigger employment of 370,000, the leather and footwear sector with 69,000 workers, furniture sector with 143,000 workers and plastic products which provides jobs to 54,000 workers.”
The SNR is a broad coalition of people’s organizations and NGOs campaigning against new free trade agreements.