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The E-commerce threat to agriculture at the WTO

Talks on ‘E-commerce’ are currently being fast-tracked at the WTO, as part of a cluster of ‘new issues’. The misleadingly titled ‘E-commerce’ agenda is not about online shopping. It proposes to transform all productive activity, including work in agriculture, into a bundle of outsourced, offshored services over which workers, and governments, would have no control. Agricultural labour would be organized by service producers operating without any local presence, employment, or content requirements, and the data flows underpinning their operations would be mined and protected offshore under E-commerce rules. E-commerce rules applied to agriculture would intensify already high levels of poverty, precariousness and casualization.

An IUF presentation at the WTO Public Forum in Geneva on October 9 explains the mechanisms and the implications of the transformation of labour, including agricultural labour, into a ‘bundle of services’ through these proposed new global ‘trade’ rules. CLICK HERE to read the presentation.

The ‘new issues’ at the WTO, including E-commerce, are an effort to ‘plurilateralize’ the stalled negotiations for a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). For a comprehensive examination of the full services agenda, see the special report published by the IUF last year, TISA: Not our future!

 

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