Sunday, February 7, 2010

Understanding How Neoliberalism Works Through the WTO

Critics of neoliberalism often point to the World Trade Organization when explaining how neoliberal principles actually impact domestic economies. Washington's Blog (featured on Naked Capitalism) offers a very interesting discussion of how the World Trade Organization's Financial Services Agreement actually operated to de-regulate financial services in the US.

Here is a list of what was stipulated by the agreement according to Washington's Blog:

"No new regulation: The United States agreed to a “standstill provision” that requires that we not create new regulations (or reverse liberalization) for the list of financial services bound to comply with WTO rules...

• Removal of regulation: The United States even agreed to try to even eliminate domestic financial service regulatory policies that meet GATS [i.e. General Agreement on Trade in Services] rules, but that may still “adversely affect the ability of financial service suppliers of any other (WTO) Member to operate, compete, or enter” the market...

• No bans on new financial service “products”....

• Certain forms of regulation banned outright: The United States agreed that it would not set limits on the size, corporate form or other characteristics of foreign firms in the broad array of financial services it signed up to WTO strictures …...

• Treating foreign and domestic firms alike is not sufficient..."

You can read the terms of the agreement yourself at this link to the World Trade Organization

Neoliberalism is not simply a philosophy. It is also a set of institutions, authorities, policies, and tactical strategies aimed at transforming the world to make it available for capital accummulation without regard to any concerns for people, labor, environment, or quality of life.

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