Nyeleni newsletter on FTAs

by | 15 Mar 2017

The latest edition of the Nyeleni newsletter is about so called free trade agreements and agriculture. GRAIN and helped to pull this issue together. It analyses a number of prominent trade deals and the public resistance against them, and highlights testimonies from different struggles around the world.


There is growing distrust and mobilisation against Free Trade Agreements. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) hurt food sovereignty because they:

  • Erase the possibility of public strategies supporting local markets.
  • Lower or remove tariffs on imported goods, hurting local small-scale foodproducers who cannot compete with large subsidised agribusiness imports.
  • Harmonise standards on food safety, pesticides, GMOs and animal welfare benefitting corporations: the imposed lowest standards protect their profit margins.
  • Rewrite patent laws, requiring countries to privatise plants and animals; criminalise peasants who save and exchange seeds and breeds thus damaging biodiverse food systems.
  • Require that foreign investors be treated better than domestic ones, gaining more access to land and water, and powerful rights to defend themselves through investor-state arbitration that is fundamentally anti-democratic.

FTAs aren’t just about ‘trade’. They’re comprehensive agreements to lock in free market capitalism, strengthen the power of global corporations, finance,
and powerful governments, and advance their geopolitical objectives.

There are direct links between FTAs, climate change, ecological devastation, and violations of Indigenous Peoples’, workers’ and farmers’ rights. Trump’s election and Brexit partly reflected public outrage at free market economics – but channelled support for exclusionary, divisive racist nationalism. We must struggle for real systemic change, saying “no to FTAs and global free market capitalism”, combatting racist politics and defending mother earth.

We can’t turn FTAs into tools of people power. They should be buried, not born again.

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