Saturday, June 30, 2007
Anti-FTA Signing Ceremony
For immediate release
June 30, 2007
Contact: Hyun Lee 347 242 6801
As the U.S. and Korea Sign the Biggest Trade Agreement since NAFTA,
Koreans at the First U.S. Social Forum Sign Anti-FTA Resolution
ATLANTA, GA — Koreans from all over the U.S. and abroad at the first ever U.S. Social Forum marked the official June 30 signing of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with an “anti-FTA signing ceremony”. Leaders of people’s movements from Korea and the U.S. spoke out against the devastating consequences of NAFTA-style free trade.
“Today, the Korean and U.S. governments sign a death sentence for the millions of small farmers and workers in Korea,” said Jaesoo Lee, Executive Director of Korean Americans against War and Neoliberalism. “We, gathered at the first ever U.S. Social Forum, condemn the two governments for imposing NAFTA-style free trade that will devastate the lives of millions in both countries. In opposition, we sign a collective resolution to step up our fight to defeat the Korea-U.S. FTA.”
South Korean and U.S. trade officials sign today a free trade deal they struck in April that studies warn could wipe out Korea’s agricultural sector when markets open up to U.S. goods, and cut off access to life-saving medicines for the poor. The biggest U.S. trade deal in 15 years, reached after 10 months of negotiations, has faced fierce opposition from South Korean small farmers and trade unionists, as well as Korean Americans, who have joined forces to stop its passage. Today marks the deadline by which the FTA must be signed in order to be eligible for the fast-track process once it is sent to the U.S. Congress. After it is signed, the FTA must be voted on by the legislative bodies of both countries to be ratified.
Speaking of the last minute negotiation efforts by the U.S. to include provisions on labor and environment in the final agreement, Christine Ahn, National Coordinator for Korean Americans for Fair Trade said, “The so-called ‘fixes’ made to get the deal through the Democratic controlled Congress do not sufficiently address the problems with the NAFTA model and must not be passed."
“NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement] was directly responsible for creating economic refugees, forcing Mexican small farmers off their land and to migrate in search of a more sustainable living,” added Hyuk-kyo Suh, Executive Director of National Association of Korean Americans. “This ‘one-size-fits-all’ U.S. free trade agreement model has been proven to fail.
The time for a new direction in U.S. trade policy is long overdue."
Farmer leaders from Korea, Colombia, and the U.S. led a crowd of four hundred gathered at the Atlanta Civic Center in hand-stamping red paint on a banner that read “No FTA” as a collective show of resolution to fight together to oppose the Korea-U.S. FTA.
Resolution to Oppose the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
And All NAFTA-Style “Free Trade”
For over a decade, multinational companies and their allies in government have been using so-called "free trade" agreements to restructure the economy for their own benefit. Corporations impose privatization, smaller public budgets, and lower labor and environmental standards on the world's people without our consent. So-called "free trade" allows companies to move jobs across borders in search of cheap labor and lax environmental standards, force workers into low wages and substandard conditions, and plunder the world’s scarce natural resources.
Working-class communities, communities of color and indigenous peoples have suffered the brunt of this attack, with the loss of good jobs, poisoning of our environment, and privatization of land and public services. As so-called “free trade” destroys the livelihoods of people in poorer countries, they are forced to leave their families to work in wealthier countries.
As we speak, the Bush administration seeks renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, or "fast track," which gives him the ability to sign trade agreements without democratic process. Bush is also seeking approval for free trade agreements recently negotiated between the United States with Colombia, Panama, Peru, and South Korea. These agreements are modeled after the failed NAFTA. The weak labor provisions of these free trade agreements will restrict the ability of workers to seek better wages and working conditions. They would add to the problem of global warming by removing South Korea’s auto emission standards, as well as causing severe damage to the virgin tropical forests of Colombia, Panama and Peru. Increased importation of subsidized American crops will devastate small farmers and destroy these countries’ food self-sufficiency.
The governments of Colombia, Peru, and South Korea, in their eagerness to pursue free trade agreements with the United States, have violated the basic principles of democracy and used violent repression against their own people, including the assassination of 2000 labor leaders in the case of Colombia, and the outlawing of all protests against the free trade agreement in South Korea.
The social and environmental justice movements around the world have been at the center of resistance to corporate globalization. The spirit of internationalism, solidarity, and militant struggle for another world unite the fifteen thousand people gathered here in Atlanta for the first-ever U.S. Social Forum. Now is the time to intensify the struggle for an alternative model of economic integration, an alternative which reflects the needs and aspirations of those most affected by corporate globalization. We must continue our opposition to all alleged "free trade" agreements, and "fast-track," which serve only to enrich multinational corporations at the expense of the rest of us.
Today, June 30, 2007, marks the official signing of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement between the Korean and U.S. governments. We, gathered at the first-ever U.S. Social Forum, condemn the two governments for signing what amounts to a death sentence for the millions of small farmers and ordinary workers in both countries. Therefore, we are resolved to strengthen our struggle to defeat the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and all NAFTA-style free trade. We are further resolved to redouble our efforts to build a just, inclusive, and sustainable world, where people and environment come first before profits.
June 30, 2007
U.S. Social Forum, Atlanta Georgia