The Indonesian People's Movement Against Neo-colonialism and Imperialism (GERAK LAWAN; The Indonesian Federation of Peasant's Union/ FSPI, Indonesian Human Rights Commitee for Social Justice/ IHCS, KAU, LS ADI, Federation of Trade Union Jakarta/ FSBJ, KAM LAKSI, Indonesian Youth Front Struggle/ FPPI, KMAI, SHI, Women Solidarity/ SP, WALHI, Institute for Global Justice/ IGJ) together with  La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International, Focus on the Global South, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), Migrant Forum in Asia, ATTAC Japan, Stop the New Round Coalition, Philippines, Kilusang Mangingisda (Fisherfolk Movement-Philippines), Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Globalization Monitor, Hong Kong, Transnational Institute, FTA Watch Thailand
are inviting their friends, allies and social movements from Indonesia and the world to join them at the "Solidarity Village for a Cool Planet"in Bali from December 7 to 10, 2007 during the United Nation Climate Change Conference.

Implications and Challenges for Civil Society Advocacy

A Regional Training Workshop on Investments

 

Organizer: Focus on the Global South

WS Venue: Chulalongkorn
University, Bangkok, Thailand

Time: WS- 26-28 November 2007 (Mon-Wed)

Publication
(proceedings and Dossier) - first half of 2008

 

 

The workshop seeks to contribute to the deepening of the understanding of
Asian civil society advocates and campaigners of the issue of
investment, and explore little understood issues of bilateral
investment treaties, the significance of trade agreements in
investment regimes, the role of international financial institutions,
and the emergence of regional transnational corporations. In
particular, it will tackle the following:

 

Private
Investment in Public Infrastructure

 

In the 1990s there has been a big push for private sector investment in
public sector projects, including infrastructure and provision of
utilities. This needed changes in the legal infrastructure for public
sector projects, including the introduction of private sector
participation laws (such as the Build-Operate-Transfer law of the
Philippines) and changes in the regulatory framework and
institutions. Such changes in legal infrastructure facilitated
various contracting models with the private sector, such as
concession agreements and various variants of private sector
building, operation, and supply contracts/agreements. In turn such
new contracting models and legal infrastructure have profound public
interest implications. It is important to examine the key public
interest concerns, such as pricing, fiscal burdens, private monopoly
privileges, public access to information, and public access to
participation and redress mechanisms.

 

It is also important to revisit the role played by the international
financial institutions (IFIs) in this policy shift, and to explore
viable ways whereby communities adversely affected by IFI programs
and projects may seek effective and direct legal redress.

 

Transnational
Corporations

 

One of the biggest critiques to the current global economic system is the
unabated power of transnational corporations (TNCs). TNCs enjoy such
economic influence as to affect international rules and regulations.
For instance, much of the growth in trade happens with increased
intra-TNC trading, and therefore TNCs have had a strong hand in
crafting international trade rules.

 

Developed countries, specifically in the European Union, host the largest
number of TNCs. Developing economies are home to less than one-fourth
of TNCs, while they (mostly Asian countries) host more than half of
the foreign affiliates worldwide. A new trend emerging is the growing
strength of developing countries as sources of foreign direct
investments (FDI), and the growth of developing country TNCs.
According to the World Investment Report 2006, five of the top100
companies are from developing countries. The WIR 2006 further reports
a revival in FDI in natural resources.

 

It is important to update our understanding of TNCs and their
operations, given that the fiercest resistance struggles are
organized around the defense of the natural commons, and that it has
been difficult to exact accountability from TNCs. The emergence of
regional corporate giants, especially Indian and Chinese companies,
is also something that requires further scrutiny.

 

Bilateral
Investment Treaties and Investment Provisions in Trade Agreements

 

The stalled multilateral talks on trade and the continued resistance of
developing countries to the attempt to broaden the jurisdiction of
the World Trade Organization to investments and other non-trade areas
are both opportunities and challenges to look at other existing
mechanisms used by developed countries to pry open the investment
regimes of developing countries.

 

Bilateral, regional and multilateral free trade agreements enjoy a bigger
profile in international negotiations, but the investment provisions
in these agreements get little scrutiny. This is despite the fact
that many of these agreements really target investments as much as
they do trade.

 

Another set of agreements that have implications on investment regulations
are bilateral investment treaties (BITs). BITs bestow rights upon the
foreign investor including the following: most favored nation (MFN)
status, full convertibility and repatriation of profit, and exemption
from nationality rules in employment. On the other hand, the host
governments face clear limits on the expropriation of investment, and
are prohibited from applying rules of origin and local content
requirements. The newest addition to this list is the right given to
investors to submit an investment dispute with the host government,
outside of host government jurisdiction. The growing number of
litigation brought by transnational corporations against country
governments also use bilateral investment treaties as basis,
challenging even existing international law.

 

 

Workshop Design

 

The workshop will run for three days and will have intensive inputs on
the main issues identified above, as well as select case
presentations to represent the major clusters of issues being
addressed in the workshop.

 

Half of the participants will come from Southeast Asia (particularly the
Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia), with the other half coming from
Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, and a resource speaker will be coming
from the United States.

 

Participants are selected based on the following criteria:

  1. Involvement
    in trade and investment issues

  2. Involvement
    in privatization research, advocacy and campaigns

  3. Involvement
    in legal cases in support of civil society campaigns

  4. Capacity
    to undertake monitoring and research of BITs, FTAs, IFI-supported
    private investment in public infrastructure and TNCs

  5. Capacity
    to network and disseminate the information learned from the
    training-workshop

  6. Capacity
    to link investments with other issues including governance,
    environment, participation, and policy space

  7. Balance
    of nationality (from the three main identified countries)

  8. Gender
    balance

 

The
training-workshop will be designed to cover the following issues:

  1. What
    are the new trends in finance and investment globally, and what are
    the unique features of the trends in Asia?

  2. How
    pervasive is private investment in private infrastructure and what
    are the mechanisms that facilitate them?

  3. How
    do we make IFIs accountable?

  4. What
    are the new features of TNC presence in Asia?

  5. What
    are free trade agreements and how do they affect investment rules?

  6. What
    are BITs and why is it important to learn about them?

  7. Strategies
    on researching and monitoring items 1-5 above

  8. Relationship
    and dynamics between BITs, FTAs, and TNCs

  9. Recent
    developments in BITs, FTAs and private investment in public
    infrastructure - new BITs, new features in FTAs, recent investment
    disputes/decisions

  10. Relevant
    national and international institutions with jurisdiction over
    investments

  11. What
    alternative governance mechanisms can we use to clip the power of
    TNCs? (how to use human rights etc.)

  12. How
    to increase civil society's capacity to engage in investment
    issues

  13. Possible
    joint monitoring, research and advocacy on investments (BITs, FTAs,
    private investment in public infrastructure, TNCs) at the regional
    level

 

The
training-workshop will have eight main inputs which will be
supplemented by country sharing, particularly on experiences with
cases or action against transnational corporations. At the end of
each day, the group will be broken up into smaller teams or buzz
groups to more thoroughly discuss issues arising from the main
inputs.

 

An
initial compilation of background materials will be prepared and
distributed during the workshop. The compilation will ideally contain
the following: the concept paper and attached background information;
contact list of participants and resource speakers; list of useful
databases and links; background materials on BITs, investment
provisions in trade agreements, private investment in public
infrastructure, TNCs basics and Asian TNCs, role of IFIs, etc.; lists
of relevant investment agreements (for key countries) and links to
full texts.

 

The
training-workshop will be documented, which documentation will be
used as basic resource for future campaigners, and as basis for short
articles on BITs and related issues, and a possible Dossier on
Investments.

 

After
the training-workshop, and continued work on investments,
participants are expected to enhance their capacity to create and use
spaces available for advocacy in various national and international
fora, including national governments, national legislatures and
international arbitration system (e.g. ICSID, UNCITRAL); the use of
international conventions to clip the power of transnational
corporations (UN Conventions on Human Rights, Environment, etc.); and
increase their capacity to debate investment liberalization policies
advanced by international financial institutions, particularly the
World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

 

Discrete
outputs from the activities include:

  1. Attendance

  2. Network
    to facilitate information exchange, at a minimum, or undertake joint
    activities (joint research and monitoring of BITs, TNCs, FTAs)

  3. Linkage
    with international groups/networks already actively campaigning on
    BITs, investments in trade agreements, and TNCs

  4. Documentation
    of the training-workshop

  5. Post-conference
    publications (papers, dossier on investments)

  6. Strategy
    and plans for follow-up, including plans for monitoring and
    evaluation

 

 

Project
Team

 

A
composite team of FOCUS staff will directly manage the project. The
team consists of:

Jenina
Joy Chavez,

programme
development, networking, fundraising,

resourcing
and facilitation

Sajin
Prachason, Mary Ann Manahan and Julie delos Reyes,

main
logistics, documentation and production support

Lourdes
Torres and Soontaree Nakaviroj,

finance
and administrative support

 

To
help develop the programme and manage the WS are invited resource
speakers-facilitators. Invited case studies/presentations will enrich
the discussions with actual experiences and campaigns.

Workshop
Programme

 

Day
1: November 26, Monday

 

8:30-9:00
a.m. Orientation and Introductions

 

9:00-9:30
a.m. Workshop Design and Objectives

 

9:30-10:00
a.m. Input
1:

Global Trends in Finance and Investment

Kavaljit
Singh, Public Interest Research Center/India

 

10:30-11:00
a.m. Input
2:

Trends in Finance and Investment in Asia

 

 

11:00-11:15
a.m. Coffee/Tea Break

 

11:15
a.n.-12:00 n.n. Discussion

 

12:00
n.n.-1:00 p.m. Input
3:

Bilateral Investment Treaties

Luke
Peterson, Investment Treaty News/US

 

1:00
a.m.-2:00 p.m. LUNCH

 

2:00-3:00
p.m Discussion

 

3:00-3:30
p.m. Input
4:
The
Case of Transnational Corporations

Nicola
Bullard, Focus on the Global South/Thailand

 

3:30-4:00
p.m. Discussion

 

4:00-4:45
p.m. Case
Presentations:

The Role of India, China, and Emerging Asian TNCs

Case
1:
China

Dorothy-Grace
Guerrero, Focus/Thailand

Case
2:

India

Benny
Kuruvilla, Focus/India

Case
3:

Investments in Energy in Mainland Southeast Asia: The Petroleum
Authority of Thailand

Sairung
Thongplon,Consumer Federation and Chuenchom Greecen, Palang
Thai/Thailand

 

4:45-5:00
p.m. Coffee/Tea Break

 

5:00-5:30
p.m. Discussion

 

5:30-6:00
p.m. General Issues to Note

 

6:00
p.m. FREE

Participants
make own dinner arrangements.

 

 

Day
2: November 27, Tuesday

 

8:30-9:00
a.m. Recap

 

9:00-9:30
a.m. Revisiting the issues raised on Day 1

 

9:30-10:00
a.m. Input
5:

Investment Provisions in Trade Agreements

Sanya
Reid Smith, Third World Network/Malaysia

(broadcast
via Skype video, with simultaneous powerpoint presentation)

 

10:00-11:00
a.m. Discussion

 

11:00-11:15
a.m. Coffee/Tea Break

 

11:15
a.m.-12:00 n.n. Case
Presentations:

Dealing with Investment Agreements

Case
4:

Changing National Investment Laws

Ponny
Anggoro, Institute of Global Justice/Indonesia

Case
5:
EU-ASEAN
Free Trade Agreement

Joseph
Purugganan, Focus/Philippines

Case
6:

Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement

Jacques-chai
Chomtongdi, Focus/Thailand

 

12:00-1:00
p.m. Discussion

 

1:00-2:00
p.m. LUNCH

 

2:00-2:30
p.m. Input
6:

Private Investment in Public Infrastructure

Nepomuceno
Malaluan, Global Transparency Initiative-Asia/Philippines

 

2:30-3:00
p.m. Discussion

 

3:00-4:00
p.m. Input
7:

The Role of International Financial Institutions

Shalmali
Guttal, Focus on the Global South/Thailand

 

Input
8
:
Legal Accountability of IFIs

Solomon
Lumba, Action for Economic Reforms/ Philippines

 

4:00-4:45
p.m. Discussion

 

4:45-5:00
p.m. Coffee/Tea Break

 

5:00-6:00
p.m. General Issues to Note

 

7:00
p.m. Dinner

(Details
to follow)

 

 

Day
3: November 28, Wednesday

 

9:00-9:30
a.m. Recap

 

9:30-10:00
a.m. Revisiting the issues raised on Day 2

 

10:00-10:45
a.m. Case
Presentations:

Private Investments and the Role of International Financial
Institutions


Case
7:

Mining in the Philippines

TBC, Alyansa Tigil-Mina/Philippines

Case
8:

Phulbari Resistance Case,Zakir
Kibria, BanglaPraxis/Bangladesh

Case 9: Thai case private investment

 

10:45-11:00
a.m. Coffee/Tea Break

 

11:00
a.m.-12:00 p.m. Discussion

 

12:00-1:00
p.m. General Issues to Note

 

1:00-2:00
p.m. LUNCH

 

2:00-4:00
p.m. Workshop:
Developing a Toolkit for National and Regional Campaigners on
Investment

Initial
ideas from main presenters, followed by discussions and
recommendations

 

4:00-5:00
p.m. Going back to the issues

Building
Strategies

 

5:00-5:15
p.m. Coffee/Tea Break

 

5:15-6:00
p.m. Moving Forward

 

6:00
p.m. FREE

Participants
make own dinner arrangements

INDIA-USA NUCLEAR DEAL IS AN ATTACK ON THE VISION OF INDIA ; WILL REVERSE OUR STANDING IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD’thumb_mumbai2

COMMITTEE ON INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY
PRESS RELEASE: 18 OCTOBER 2007, MUMBAI
 

Stepping up its campaign against the India-USA nuclear deal, the Committee on Independent Foreign Policy organised a public meeting at Mumbai today. Over 1500 people packed into Patkar Hall in South Mumbai to listen to leaders from the Left parties including Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat and Communist Party of India General Secretary AB Bardhan. The meeting was supported by local trade union chapters of CITU and AITUC, the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti and the Peace Mumbai network. Former Mumbai High Court Justice Suresh and Former Finance Secretary SP Shukla also spoke.

Introduction

 
Three-quarters of the world’s 852 million men and women suffering from hunger are found in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their survival. Most of them are landless farmers or have such tiny or unproductive plots of land that they cannot feed their families”. This was the assessment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released at the second International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in March 2006.

Manila: september 19 2007 

thumb_lamy-3Debt and trade activists staged a picket at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Manila office Wednesday and stressed that the “Aid for Trade” being pushed by World Trade Organization (WTO), international financial institutions (IFIs)  especially ADB, and the powerful G-8 nations is
“nothing but a bribe” or a “dangling rotten carrot” in front of developing countries.

The protest coincided with the two-day regional review meeting sponsored by the WTO, ADB and the Philippine government, in Manila. Dubbed “Mobilizing Aid for Trade: Focus Asia and the Pacific,” the meeting aims to discuss “how to empower less developed economies and small states to benefit from global trade.”

PRESS RELEASE:30 August 2007, New Delhi

DEMAND FOR WHITE
PAPER ON WTO GAINS AND LOSSES

A national consultation on
‘What the WTO Doha Development Round means for India' held at the
national capital on 29 August 2007 was attended by government
officials, academicians, policy analysts, farmers groups and
representatives of civil society organisations from across the
country. With negotiations on agriculture and NAMA set to begin by
September 2007 at the WTO headquarters in Geneva participants at the
meeting voiced serious concerns on the implications of the current
proposals on Indian Agriculture. The consultation was a joint
initiative of Focus on the Global South -Mumbai, Food, Trade and
Nutrition Coalition-Asia and Forum for Biotechnology and Food
Security-New Delhi

The WTO’s draft modalities on agriculture, released by New Zealand’s Ambassador Crawford Falconer will allow the US and EU to go scot-free where it comes to domestic supports. According to Focus on the Global South, this is worrying since these domestic supports are today’s new form of hidden export subsidies.

The Falconer text calls on the US to bind its overall trade distorting domestic support at between 13 – 16.4 billion (the exact figure to be negotiated). In 2006,  overall trade distorting support the US provided amounted to 10.8 billion. Given high world prices, the figure may even be smaller in 2007 - between 6 to 10 billion. If these modalities are adopted, no cuts are needed on the part of the US.  The same holds true for the EU, which escapes unscathed, because it is shifting its supports to the undisciplined Green Box. 

wtologomagThe third collapse of the Doha Round -
following the collapse in Cancun in September 2003 and Geneva in July
2006 -  indicates that it is time we bury the deceptively named
Doha Development Agenda, says the Bangkok based think tank Focus on
the Global South.  

The latest breakdown in talks between
US, EU, Brazil and India in Potsdam, Germany yesterday, is good news
for democracy and the developing world.

A report for Focus on the Global South by Isabelle Delforge

From small farms to fast food chains and supermarkets

MAY 6

{xtypo_dropcap}E{/xtypo_dropcap}conomic sovereignty was the
underlying message in a series of discussions on the World Trade
Organization and Free Trade Agreements at the Kyoto People's Forum on
the ADB today.

Trade activists from the Philippines, Japan and Korea shared
updates and vowed to intensify their struggle to derail the Doha
negotiations as well as bilateral and regional free trade agreements
across Asia.

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