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Global Trade Watch E-Newsletter #50 - August 2007- Special APEC Edition!

 

Contents:

1) News from Global Trade Watch
2) Good News for (a) Change
3) Upcoming Events

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1) NEWS FROM GLOBAL TRADE WATCH

* Join the APEC Festivities in Sydney In September! (And don't miss the launch of GTW's new film Squeezed: The Cost of Free Trade in the Asia-Pacific)

If you don't live in Sydney, you might have missed it, but there's no escaping the fact that the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is about to descend on the Harbour City! In the next 10 days, the leaders of 21 Asia-Pacific nations – including US President George Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao – will be in Sydney for the discussions on a range of issues, from terrorism and security, to climate change, to (yes) free trade.

In our April e-newsletter we had a brief look at the proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) which will be on the table at the meeting. The idea came from the (conspiratorial-sounding) APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), and somehow made its way onto the agendas of the world's most powerful leaders. Last year APEC economic ministers released a statement noting that that "We share the APEC Business Advisory Council's (ABAC) views that...it would...be timely for APEC to seriously consider more effective avenues towards trade and investment liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region. Therefore . . . we instructed Officials to undertake further studies on ways and means to promote regional economic integration, including a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific as a long-term prospect."

If you're interested to find out about what APEC is all about, there are a plethora of events in Sydney and Melbourne which focus on APEC, it's role and its impacts. Scroll down to "Upcoming Events" for a listing of some of these.

If you're in Melbourne or Sydney, make sure you don't miss the premiere of Global Trade Watch's exciting new half-hour documentary Squeezed: The Cost of Free Trade in the Asia-Pacific

Filmed in Thailand and The Philippines in July 2007, Squeezed tells the story of how globalisation and free trade agreements are changing the lives of millions of people living in the Asia-Pacific region, and how people are responding to it. Featuring interviews with farmers, workers and slum-dwellers, the film travels across the landscapes of Asia, from the lush rice paddies of Thailand to squatter settlements perched on a rubbish dump in urban Manila. You can watch a teaser for Squeezed here.

* THIS THURSDAY (Aug 30, 7pm) Squeezed will be launched in Melbourne at Kaleide Theatre (RMIT), 360 Swanston St, Melbourne ($15/$12 Entry).

* THIS MONDAY (Sept 3, 7pm) Squeezed will be launched in Sydney at Mori Gallery, 168 Day St, Sydney CBD ($15/$12 Entry).

Or if you can't make it along to a screening you can order a Squeezed DVD for only $10. Or join Global Trade Watch and get Squeezed FREE! (NGOs and educational institutions/groups can also order FREE copies - email [email protected] for more information.)

To reserve tickets to the Melbourne or Sydney screenings of Squeezed, please ring 03 9015 7667 or email [email protected]

We hope to see you there!

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2) GOOD NEWS FOR (A) CHANGE

* People Before Patents: Millions of Lives Saved!

If you've perused previous GTW e-newsletters, you may be familiar with Pharmaceutical company Novartis's court case against the Indian Government, which tried to stop India producing cheap generic medicines for sick people in developing countries.

The great news is that India's High Court has issued a landmark decision upholding the country's Patents Act which currently stops companies patenting medicines which don't involve real innovation over and above existing ones. Among other things, Novartis had claimed that India's Patent Act did not meet its obligations under the WTO's TRIPs agreement. The High Court's decision secures the supply of cheap medicines from India used by poor people in many developing countries around the world!

More info: http://msf.org.au/stories/twfeature/2007/176-twf.shtml

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3) UPCOMING EVENTS

MELBOURNE

* Thursday August 30, 7pm - Melbourne Launch of GTW's new film Squeezed: The Cost of Free Trade in the Asia-Pacific - This September, APEC comes to Sydney, bringing together the leaders of 21 Asia-Pacific nations to discuss a possible Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Filmed in Thailand and The Philippines in July 2007, Squeezed tells the story of how free trade agreements and globalisation are changing the lives of millions of people living in the Asia-Pacific region. Featuring interviews with farmers, workers and slum-dwellers, the film travels across the landscapes of Asia, from the lush rice paddies of Thailand to squatter settlements perched on a rubbish dump in urban Manila. A short film of contrasts and contradictions, Squeezed is an emotional document of the impact of globalisation on people in the Asia-Pacific, and their responses to it. Please come along to the launcg of this important film. WHERE: Kaleide Theatre (RMIT), 360 Swanston St, Melbourne. $15/$12 entry. More info: http://www.squeezedthefilm.com

* Saturday 1st Sept, 10am-6pm - A People's Alternative to APEC: Melbourne Conference - President Bush, Prime Minister Howard and political heads from other countries will gather in Sydney in early September 2007 for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Conference to plan their economic, political and military agenda for the Asia Pacific Region and Oceania. APEC is used by the region's rulers and multinational corporations to promote and co-ordinate policies that lead to greater hardship and impoverishment for the people of Asia-Pacific and Oceania. APEC promotes multinationals' agenda that leads to greater exploitation of workers, growing deprivation of millions of people in developing countries; state sponsored terror, murder and torture of government opponents in some countries of the region. A Peoples Alternative APEC Conference will be held in Melbourne to put forward a People's Agenda. Please join us at a people's conference that will lay bare APEC's real role and impact and put forward a people's alternative to APEC's economic, political, enviornment and military agenda. WHERE: Casey Plaza Lecture Theatre, Bowen Street, RMIT (LaTrobe Street entrance near corner Swanston Street, City). More info: CEPU - 9349 4411. Organised by the International League of Peoples' Struggles - Australia.


SYDNEY

* Fri 31 Aug, 5:30pm - Asia Pacific People for Environment and Community (APPEC): Putting people into APEC! Public forum - The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) meeting of the leaders of 21 countries is to be held in Sydney in September 2007, and will be the most significant meeting Australia has ever hosted. APEC lacks democratic involvement and has always resisted formal engagement with civil society groups. This public forum brings together leading thinkers, community leaders, NGOs, and others to learn about the narrow focus of APEC, and hear alternatives. Fair trade information stalls and products available. Featuring: Lori Wallach (USA), Trade lawyer, author and Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (USA), Sharan Burrow (President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions) Yuri Munsayac (Asia Pacific for Human Development, Philippines), Don Henry (Australian Conservation Foundation), MC: Tim Brunero (former Big Brother contestant, journalist, and writer for the ABCs The Chaser). WHERE: University of Technology, Sydney: Guthrie Theatre, Design Building (Building 6), Harris St entrance (near the ABC building and near the overhead footbridge) More info: http://aftinet.org.au/campaigns/APEC_07/apec-index.html

* Sat 1 Sept, 9:30am-5pm - Asia Pacific People for Environment and Community (APPEC): putting people into APEC! Conference - The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) meeting of the leaders of 21 countries is to be held in Sydney in September 2007, and will be the most significant meeting Australia has ever hosted. APEC lacks democratic involvement and has always resisted formal engagement with civil society groups. This conference will be collaborative community space that draws people together for engagement on the topics APEC fails to address, such as human rights, labour rights and the environment. Panel sessions, workshops, information stalls, art exhibition, doco screenings and activities. Featuring: Richard Broinowski (Adjunct Professor, Sydney University, former Australian Diplomat), Professor Jane Kelsey (University of Auckland and Action Resource Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA)), John Sutton (National Secretary, Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union). WHERE: University of Technology, Sydney: Guthrie Theatre, Design Building (Building 6), Harris St entrance (near the ABC building and near the overhead footbridge). More info: http://aftinet.org.au/campaigns/APEC_07/apec-index.html

* Monday Sept 3, 7pm - Sydney Launch of GTW's new film Squeezed: The Cost of Free Trade in the Asia-Pacific - This September, APEC comes to Sydney, bringing together the leaders of 21 Asia-Pacific nations to discuss a possible Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Filmed in Thailand and The Philippines in July 2007, Squeezed tells the story of how free trade agreements and globalisation are changing the lives of millions of people living in the Asia-Pacific region. Featuring interviews with farmers, workers and slum-dwellers, the film travels across the landscapes of Asia, from the lush rice paddies of Thailand to squatter settlements perched on a rubbish dump in urban Manila. A short film of contrasts and contradictions, Squeezed is an emotional document of the impact of globalisation on people in the Asia-Pacific, and their responses to it. Please come along to the launcg of this important film. WHERE: Mori Gallery, 168 Day St, Sydney CBD. $15/$12 entry. More info: http://www.squeezedthefilm.com

* Tues-Thurs Sept 4-6 - APRN & AID/WATCH Conference: To Oppose Free Trade Agreements: Making People Matter - Over the past decade activists opposed to 'trade liberalisation' have tended to focus on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its implications for social justice, poverty, the environment and national sovereignty. The threat posed by the rapid growth of second and third generation bilateral and regional free trade and investment agreements is often less well understood. This strategy workshop aims to build a more sophisticated understanding of the forces that are continuing to drive 'trade liberalisation' and reflect on the diverse experiences of resistance within the region as the basis for developing more coherent and effective national, sub-regional, regional and sectoral strategies. The workshop is organised by the Asia-Pacific Research Network, a group of fifty regional research organizations serving social movements, and AID/WATCH, a Sydney-based APRN member that monitors aid, trade and debt. A strategy paper for the workshop may be downloaded from the APRN website. Places for workshop participants are limited. Please pre-register via email, sending your name, contact details, and which days you wish to attend, and how you want to pay the registration fee to: [email protected] Workshop fees include teas and coffee morning and afternoon, and lunch: Full: $75 for the three days, or $35 per day. Concession: $45 for three days or $20 per day.WHERE: Sydney Mechanics' Institute of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney. Full program here (PDF). More info: [email protected]

* More APEC-related events can be found here.


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