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Explore the Issues
The World Trade Organisation - An Australian Guide
What Can You Do?
This guide is just an introduction - why not find out a little more about these important global issues. Check out our links to more resources and other organisations campaigning for global justice.
Write letters to state and federal parliamentarians and newspapers voicing your opposition to WTO agreements, and drawing their attention to the effects of the agreements. Ask local councils to pass motions of opposition to these agreements.
Talk to friends and family about trade issues, join a local group campaigning on global justice issues or start one yourself! Other Australian groups active in this area include Friends of the Earth, Oxfam Australia, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network and Aid/Watch.
Support Resources Like This One
If you've enjoyed reading this guide and you'd like to support Global Trade Watch to produce more resources like this, please consider becoming a member. You can find a membership application here.
Wean off the Global Economy
There's lots that ordinary people can easily do to reduce our reliance on the global economy and avoid the environmental and social impacts of the unfair trading system.
Voluntary simplicity involves reducing our spending and consumer needs, especially reducing our reliance on multinational corporations and their products. This reduces our ecological impact and frees up more of our lives to spend outside of the paid workforce and towards contributing to our local communities.
Buy Close to Home
For many products, especially food, it's easy to avoid the global, corporatised economy and its industrially produced food. "Farmers' markets" are a great alternative, with more than 100 springing up in cities and towns across Australia in the last few years. At a farmers' market, farmers from a local area sell their food direct to the public. Buying your food from a farmers' market means that it is locally produced, and the money goes straight to the person who grew it. It guarantees farmers a decent income, encourages face-to-face interaction, creates communities and avoids all the destructive effects of the global trading system. You can find a list of farmers' markets near you here.
Community food gardens, food co-operatives, seed saving networks and community-supported agriculture - where urban consumers develop links and purchase food from semi-rural or nearby rural farmers to support ecologically sustainable food production - are other ways in which you can be linked to local, organic and nutritious sources of food.
Other local alternatives to the corporate economy include:
Buy Fair Trade Products
For products not produced locally, "fair trade" products - especially coffee, tea and chocolate - are now available in shops across Australia. Fair trade is a trading partnership, where companies guarantee small farmers a fair price for their crops, regardless of the vagaries of global markets. Fair Trade contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalised producers and workers in the developing world. It also often supports more environmentally-sustainable farming practices.
The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) is the global umbrella body for Fairtrade certification and labelling around the world. Products certified by FLO carry the FAIRTRADE label (pictured), which is an independent guarantee that the product meets internationally agreed Fairtrade standards benefiting the producers, their families and communities in the developing world.
Over 500 small-scale producer groups participate in the Fairtrade system, benefiting over one million producers, workers and their dependents in more than 50 developing countries. Annual sales of Fairtrade labelled products around the world reached an estimated US$1 billion for the first time in 2004, generating around US$100m in additional income for producers (85).
By buying Fairtrade labeled products, you can help support small farmers and help to undermine the impacts of unfair trade rules imposed by the WTO. Look for Fairtrade labelled coffee, tea and chocolate (with more to come!) in wholefood stores and some supermarkets around Australia. Ask your local businesses to stock and use Fairtrade labelled products, or visit the Fair Trade Association's website to find a supplier near you.
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