Alternative Regionalisms

In this issue of Focus on Trade, Walden Bello analyses China's role in the Copenhagen climate talks, Shalmali Guttal takes the pulse of the WTO ten years after Seattle, and two participants report on the New Year Gaza Freedom March.

CHINA: PRINCE OF DENMARK
Walden Bello

AILING BUT ALIVE: THE WTO TEN YEARS AFTER SEATTLE
Shalmali Guttal

CALL FOR “SYSTEM CHANGE NOT CLIMATE CHANGE” UNITES GLOBAL MOVEMENT
Statement of Climate Justice Now! on the COP 15

LESSONS OF THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH
Walden Bello

THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH: IN THE MIDST OF A REGIONAL PANDEMONIUM
Javad Heydarian

Kathmandu, 27 March 2010
Around 50 representatives belonging to the Solidarity for Asian Peoples’ Advocacies (SAPA) call on greater interaction and solidarity among regional groups to address common concerns. In a public forum on “The Asian Challenge: Forging Solidarity, Building Alternatives” on March 26 in the Everest Hotel, SAPA members discussed the multiple crises experienced in Asia – in the economy; in the environment and the climate; and in peace, democracy, human rights and self-determination.

by Akbayan! Representative Walden Bello

ON JAN. 1, 2010, the China-Asean Free Trade Area (Cafta) went into effect. Touted as the world’s biggest Free Trade Area, CAFTA is billed as having 1.7 million consumers, with a combined gross domestic product of $ 2 trillion and total trade of $ 1.3 trillion.

Under the agreement, trade between China and six Asean countries including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore has become duty-free for more than 7,000 products.

By 2015, the newer Asean countries, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, will join the zero-tariff arrangement.

The propaganda mills, especially in Beijing, have been trumpeting the FTA as bringing “mutual benefits” to China and Asean. A positive spin on Cafta has also come from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who hailed the emergence of a "formidable regional grouping" that would rival the United States and the European Union.

The reality, however, is that most of the advantages will probably flow to China.

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