Representatives of a group of Brazilian NGOs, most of them worker groups and women’s rights activists, are in Hong Kong where they are not only protesting against the WTO meeting, but also expressing deep pessimism with regard to anything that comes out of the conference.
The Brazilian Network for the Integration of People (Rede Brasileira pela Integração dos Povos) (Rebrip), an NGO umbrella organization, says it expects failure at the WTO meeting in Hong Kong this week.
Among the groups participating with Rebrip are the Confederação íšnica dos Trabalhadores (Unified Labor Union) (CUT), Confederação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura (Farm Worker Labor Union) (Contag), Federação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura Familiar (Family Farm Workers) (Fetraf), Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Landless Rural Workers Movement) (MST), Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas (Rural Women Movement) and Instituto de Defesa do Consumidor (Consumer Defense Institute) (Idec).
Fátima Mello of Rebrip says "You can be sure that any result, any agreement, they reach will be unfair for the people of less developed countries. Especially the poor people who will find that their rights are threatened and no economic benefits will be forthcoming."
The NGOs also expressed fear that Brazil will make offers in the areas of industry and services in order to make gains in agriculture.
"In order to achieve advantages for the country’s agribusiness, the big exporting commercial farm sector, the government will make concessions in the area of public utilities, such as water and electricity, distance learning and other fundamental services. There will also be lower import tariffs for manufactured goods which will mean that jobs will be lost in the industrial sector," says Mello.
Mello says that demonstrations in Hong Kong against the talks will be more intense beginning today. She says some protesters will carry banners reading "Side with the people," "Reject the WTO anti-development round," and "No agreement is better than a bad agreement."