Transatlantic business summit in Cincinnati
activists plan protests against corporate power

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, French Trade Minister Francois Huwart and US Treasurer Lawrence Summers are among the political heavyweights attending the sixth annual conference of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), November 17th and 18th in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the conference of this controversial corporate-state alliance, government representatives will discuss business recommendations with TABD-chairmen Bertrand Collomb of French TNC Lafarge and George David of United Technologies, and over 100 other CEOs from the largest EU and US TNCs. EU Commissioner Lamy will engage with the business leaders on various themes such as; 'Globalisation: Acceptance Issues and Role of Business'. Since 1995, the TABD has been given a major role in shaping not only EU-US trade policies, but also an increasingly wide range of other EU and US regulations. Environment, consumer and labour groups and other activists will use the occasion to protest against the undemocratic and destructive powers of the TABD.

The self-confident TABD has prepared a provocative list of "key deliverables" for the Cincinnati conference. A prime demand is for governments to commit to implementing the TABD's 'Approved Once, Accepted Everywhere' principle. This involves harmonisation of regulations and standards, which de facto means creating a transatlantic free trade zone, while elegantly bypassing public debate.

The TABD also urges the governments to speed-up work on the issues that industry has identified for the transatlantic 'early warning system' for potential trade conflicts. "The new obstacles to trade are now domestic regulations," reads the TABD's May 2000 Mid-Year Report. Indeed the TABD is targeting numerous issues with environment, consumer and animal rights implications, hoping to postpone, water-down or eliminate proposed government legislation in these areas. The US governments' latest list of 'early warning issues' includes the Italian government's recent ban on a number of genetically engineered imports, but also the proposed EU directives on recycling of electrical and electronics equipment and the phase- out of ozone-depleting refrigerants. All of these proposals had been identified as 'fast approaching trade barriers' by the TABD.

During the Cincinnati event, the TABD will ask the government representatives present to agree on a date for launching a new round of trade negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). There will also be sessions on climate change, where business will make a last-minute attempt to influence the course of the UN climate talks in The Hague. At the May 2000 Mid- Year meeting in Brussels, the TABD stressed that the UN climate treaty should not, "contradict WTO disciplines, or provide cover for countries which might use the Protocol to justify trade or market access discrimination."

The TABD summit in Cincinnati will be given a warm welcome by a wide range of environment, consumers, labour and church groups which oppose the undemocratic powers of this corporate-state alliance. A cornucopia of protests planned include rallies, a 'pig puppet' action, a 'Consciousness Vigil', and a labour picket. Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch is also organising a 'globalisation teach-in'.

For more info:

Ohio Valley Indy Media Center

Coalition for a Humane Economy

Cincinnati Direct Action Coalition

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

For background on the TABD, see also the following Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) briefing papers:

"TABD: Doing Business in Berlin" (November 1999)

"TABD: Putting the Business Horse Before the Government Cart" (October 1999)


Olivier Hoedeman
Corporate Europe Observatory

Contents | Actions 2000 |