Efforts by the World Development Movement... have got GATS exactly where the WTO does not want it to be: in the public domain
Nick Cohen, The Observer.
WDM worked on The General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) between 2000 and 2005.
Have you heard about the sale of the century? The world's services are up for grabs and the governments and corporations of rich countries are busy snapping up the best bargains from around the world. Following WDM's campaign, GATS moved from an obscure issue that no-one had heard of, to the political centre-stage.
From the moment we wake to the moment we sleep, we depend on services. We wouldn't get far without our water, health and education services, or our banks, telephone and transport systems. The service industry is huge - international trade in services is worth a staggering £1.5 million a minute.
A key role of governments should be both to ensure that people can get access to affordable basic services and to support the local economy. They do this through rules and regulations. For example, governments in many poor countries subsidise water supplies, transport and phone services in poor, rural areas by using profits generated from these services in densely populated urban areas.
But universal access to basic services and their adequate regulation are under threat with the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), part of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) package of legally binding rules on global trade.
The World Development Movement (WDM) believes that GATS spells bad news for people, especially those in poor countries. For poor countries, GATS is another barrier in their efforts to break the vicious cycle of poverty.
WDM launched its GATS campaign in 2000, with a massive public meeting in London. Over 1000 people turned up to hear WDM speak alongside author-activists George Monbiot and Naomi Klein.
Highlights of WDM's GATS campaign include: