Such an approach also provides a natural linkage to workers in the North.  IMF conditionalities forced countries such as South Korea, Brazil, and Russia to export manufactured goods at rock-bottom prices based on depression-level wages. 

This has contributed substantially to mass layoffs and unemployment, especially in U.S. manufacturing.  A joint attack on structural adjustment-style policies and support for growth driven by domestic demand in Third World countries could serve as the basis for a powerful alliance between First World labor and a wide range of forces in the Third World.

Even the threat of a concerted default is a financial atom bomb; brandishing it might change the entire dynamics of global financial relations. 

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Jeremy Brecher, Tim Costello, and Brendan Smith are the authors of Globalization from Below: The Power of Solidarity (South End Press) and the producers of the video documentary Global Village or Global Pillage?  For more information about their work, visit www.villageorpillage.org.

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Editorial comment: It is greatly encouraging to learn of the effort to unite the people of the “debtor countries” to pressure their governments to form a “debtors’ cartel” and press for the changes listed at the end; but it would be even more encouraging if there were indications that the root cause of the global debt problems – the global system of money-creation as “credit” in the form of interest-bearing debts owed to the banks of issue – were to be challenged.

If this were done, then the illegitimacy of these debts would be exposed, and the case hugely strengthened; in terms of REAL wealth – the physical goods and services supplied in international trade - it is clear that the “creditor” countries are in fact, by a huge margin, the true “debtors”.

I recommend Mike Rowbotham's book, “Goodbye America”, as a good introduction to this issue:

ISBN 1 897766 56 4 or 0 85881 177 4

– BL

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Trade piracy unmasked

Poor countries are still being cheated by the rich world

George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 6th November 2001

Just as woodworkers used to drink in the Carpenter's Arms, or farmhands in the Jolly Ploughman, the trade negotiators from the world's richest nations have found their way to their own hallowed ground. When they gather in Switzerland, they dine together in an exclusive restaurant on the shores of Lake Geneva called The Pirate. It's here that the members of "the quad" -- the US, EU, Canada and Japan -- study their maps and count their doubloons.

In Seattle in 1999, the world trade talks failed because the weaker countries, excluded from the key negotiations, walked out. Now, we have been promised, the rich world has learnt from its mistakes. At the new talks in Qatar on Friday, the nations of "the quad" will, they insist, rescue the castaways of the new world order. But the progress so far suggests that, instead of being allowed a share in the spoils of free trade, the world's poor will be walking the plank.

The draft declaration due to be discussed this weekend was mostly written during two exclusive meetings: in Mexico in August and in Singapore last month. Though the World Trade Organisation has 142 members, only 21 nations, among them the world's richest and most powerful, were permitted to attend. The documents the meeting produced were then submitted to the other members for approval. They were not permitted to make substantial changes.

As a result, the draft declaration contains almost none of the concessions that developing countries, representing most of the world's people, have requested. Powerful nations have refused to stop subsidising their exports of meat, grain and sugar: by dumping them in weak countries at artificially low prices, they destroy the livelihoods of local farmers. Britain and Germany have insisted that they will not relax the laws governing the patenting of drugs: poor countries facing public health disasters will continue to be denied cheap medicine.

The poor world wants the rich world to honour the promises it made under the last world trade agreement, before starting any new negotitions. Instead "the quad" is loading the agenda with new and fiendishly complex issues, such as investment, services and government procurement.