corporations & trade

Hundreds of people gathered in Hyderabad, India, between 22 and 26 July 2017, in opposition to the 19th round of negotiations of the 16-nation Free Trade Agreement (FTA) called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). 

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The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional trade deal being negotiated among 16 countries across Asia-Pacific. If adopted, RCEP will cover half the world’s population, including 420 million small family farms that produce 80% of the region’s food. RCEP is expected to create powerful new rights and lucrative business opportunities for food and agriculture corporations under the guise of boosting trade and investment. Several RCEP countries are also part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another mega-regional agreement setting some of the most pro-big business terms seen in trade and investment deals so far. While the fate of the TPP is uncertain, these two agreements may have to co-exist and there is pressure to align them on numerous points. What will this mean for food and farmers in the region?

 

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A new report exposes the devastating consequences of land grabs for indigenous communities in Preah Vihear province, in northern Cambodia. The report reveals how Chinese companies, attracted by the Cambodian government to invest in local agro-industry, have been violating the fundamental rights of communities and destroying livelihoods and ecosystems over the past six years. The report is a joint collaboration between Community Network in Action (CNA), Ponlok Khmer, GRAIN, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).

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Concerns about food safety and hygiene have underpinned some governments’ decision to ban street vendors and close down fresh markets in recent years. Bangkok’s street vendors are the latest victims of this ban as the city government announced it will clean out all street vendors by the end of 2017.

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Asia’s rapid economic growth and industrialisation are coming at an extremely high price for local communities, their environments and economies. Across the region, ‘development’ is characterized by large-scale investment, at the heart of which are the control and exploitation of land, forests, water, nature, minerals and labour. An article by GRAIN and Focus on the Global South in the latest issue of the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin.

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Through lobbying, marketing, and proselytizing about cheap meat, the global meat industry is working hard to keep industrially produced meat on the menu, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

 

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The latest edition of the Nyeleni newsletter is about so called free trade agreements and agriculture. GRAIN and bilaterals.org 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.

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Corporations are trying to secure their profits in the high-stakes business of global farming. But unlike farmers, global food and agriculture companies have multiple resources at their disposal, which act as a safety net in the face of agriculture’s many inherent risks. One such resource is the World Economic Forum (WEF), which plays a critical role in helping corporations maintain and increase their profit margins.

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"Cashless" economy is a blow to small producers

Supermarket watch Asia bulletin | 06 February 2017 | Other publications, corporations & trade

Fresh markets sustain the economies and livelihoods of millions of people. Despite this reality, the governments of many Asian countries are systematically adopting policies that undermine local markets and the people who rely on them. From Hong Kong to Hanoi, governments are banning fresh markets or scaling back market interventions that once kept corporations and price volatility in check. In Indonesia, for instance, the government lifted commodity price regulations, eroding the food security of farmers, small traders and poor consumers.

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Some of the world's largest food companies are rolling out a programme called Grow, promising to apply “market-based solutions” to poverty, food insecurity and climate change. Under a logic of public-private partnership, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Monsanto and other companies are fostering close ties with governments in order to increase their control over markets and supply chains.

While claiming to promote food security and benefit small farmers, Grow's focus on a few high-value commodities (potatoes, maize, coffee, palm oil, etc.) exposes the programme’s real objective: to expand the production of a handful of products to profit a handful of corporations. The impacts on communities, biodiversity, nutrition and the climate are potentially disastrous.

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