rn: TABD, MRA & the New World Order


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

A most interesting article... While it is certainly informative, I feel it
is not that "empowering"; it focuses so much on our political leaders,
neglecting to remind us "peons" that it is really up to us to make sure that
the corporate globalization agenda is replaced with an earht-friendly agenda.

The next article, "Cry the Beloved Planet" was also sent out over the
Science for Peace list serve, moderated by Eric Fawcett. I heartily
recommend it. Thank you, Eric, for doing your part to build an alternative
information service!

all the best, Jan
Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 13:13:33 -0400
From: Eric Fawcett <•••@••.•••>
Subject: sfp-130: TABD, MRA and the New World Order

These acronyms are as well-known to the elites of the New World Order as
WTO and IMF, and equally threatening to the lives of ordinary people -
read on to find out how globalisation really works.

Tony rushes in where Bill fears to tread: Clinton has 'wimped out' but the
corporate big hitters are pleased with Blair 'the believer'
Gregory Palast                        OBSERVER (London)Sunday May 21, 2000
For all you conspiracy cranks and paranoid anti-globalisers who imagine
that the planet's corporate elite and government functionaries actually
meet to conspire about their blueprint for rewriting the laws of sovereign
nations... be advised that the next meeting of the New World Order will be
held starting Tuesday May 23 at the Swiss Hotel in Brussels. This is the
mid-year meeting of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) - and you
aren't invited. [The Bilderberg group meets a couple of weeks later on 1-4
June just a few kilometers outside of Brussels at The Chateau Du Lac
Hotel, Avenue Du Lac 87, Brussels - and you DEFINITELY are not invited!]

In 1997, just after Labour's general election victory, US Commerce
Secretary Bill Daley met privately with the new Trade and Industry
Secretary, Margaret Beckett, to instruct her on the ways of the world.
According to the US Secretary's own briefing notes - obtained under the US
Freedom of Information Act - Daley dictated a list of four changes in UK
law and policy required to smooth the path of American corporations in
Britain. In addition, further guidance would be provided by what Daley
described as 'the most influential business group advising government on
US-EU commercial relations', the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD).
'Your encouragement,' he admonished the Minister, 'would be helpful.'

As Butch said to Sundance, Who are these guys? TABD is a working group of
the West's 100 most powerful chief executives. When presidents, prime
ministers and other transitory heads of state meet at the World Trade
Organisation, this more permanent grouping provides their agenda. The
TABD's system is masterfully efficient. One US bigwig is paired with one
European for each sector grouping. For example, Monsanto's Robert Harness
and Unilever's Huib Vigeveno are in charge of Agri-Biotech.

The US government and the EU each assign an official to each industry
pair. TABD has privileged access not to small fry, but to top bananas such
as Pascal Lamy, European Commissioner for Trade, and Erkki Liikanen,
Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society. Next week, the
officials will report to their corporate duos on the headway they have
made on the 33 items on the current TABD implementation table. This lists
33 environment, consumer and worker protection laws in selected nations
which TABD wishes to defeat or water down.

The corporates will render their verdict on what TABD calls the scorecard.
This will then be turned over, along with a new implementation table -
including agenda items for the WTO - to Presidents Clinton and Prodi at
their summit meeting in Portugal later this month.

The 1988 implementation table, one of the first documents obtained,
grudgingly, from the EC under its access to information rules, makes good
reading for those wanting to know what's planned for our brave new world.
For example, several of the 'tetra-partite groups' (the two-on-two
government-business trysting sessions) seek expansion for something called
the MRA. The initials stand for Mutual Recognition Agreement, or what the
TABD describes as, 'approved once, accepted everywhere'. It is the
globalisers' cruise missile.

Here's an example of how it works. Years ago the Pfizer company
manufactured defective heart valves which cracked, killing 165 patients in
whom they had been implanted. Understandably, this made Europe wary of
accepting devices merely because they had been blessed by the US Food and
Drug Administration. But the MRA brushes aside individual nations' health
and safety regulatory reviews - including individual regulation of medical
device manufacturing plants.

Given the ill-feeling in Europe about genetic modification, the MRA rules
for GM products are devilishly complex and savvy, effectively applying
only to the developing nations. Does Brazil have a problem with Monsanto's
Bovine Growth hormone? Sorry, approval by the WTO's Codex Alimentarius
committee means Brazil must accept the product or face WTO trade

The US, too, is a target of TABD's contempt for consumer protection.
TABD's products liability group, under the guise of eliminating
'non-tariff' trade barriers, takes aim at the unique right of American
citizens to sue corporate bad guys. One TABD proposal would reverse the $5
billion judgment against Exxon in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case.

Recently, however, the TABD lobby locomotive has been slowed by lambs on
the tracks. The demonstrations in Seattle and Washington had, according to
TABD members I interviewed, an effect far beyond anything the
demonstrators themselves could have imagined. The first purpose of the WTO
meeting was to launch a new round of cuts in import duties and a push to
eliminate more of the rules covering imports, known as non-tariff
regulatory barriers. That went up in tear-gas smoke. Sweating under the TV
lights, the WTO shrank from voting a new 'comprehensive round'.

Worse, TABD's deregulation programme was publicly rejected by an erstwhile
ally. The implementation table clearly told government officials, on page
17, that 'the basic purpose of an MAI [Multilateral Agreement on
Investments] should not be undermined by language on labour policy and
environmental policy', dicta adopted by the US and EC.

Yet there was Bill Clinton, spooked by opinion polls showing public
support for the demonstrators' views, telling the Seattle audience
weepy-eyed stories of the horrors of child labour in Brazil. Business
leaders were infuriated. Frustration with their former champion Clinton
burst into the open two weeks ago when, at a meeting of the International
Chamber of Commerce in Budapest, industrialists shouted down a proposal to
'dialogue' with non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty

'I don't believe that those who were in Seattle represented somebody with
a legitimate stake,' fumed Peter Sutherland, head of investment bank
Goldman Sachs UK. Sutherland, who jumped to Goldman from his post as
director of the WTO, prefers the company of his own kind. 'We have to be
very careful on engaging in this debate, as those NGOs [non-governmental
organisations] should not have a say with government!' (Interestingly, the
Goldman bank chaired the TABD when Sutherland was running the WTO.)

Clinton had wimped out on business. But, just in time, the Chambers of
Commerce have found a new knight errant. 'Tony Blair, he was great! He had
guts! That's the leadership we need,' economist Jagdish Bhagwati,
globalisation guru, told the disheartened suits in Budapest. He applauded
the PM for speaking out, 'against anti-capitalist NGOs'.

When I spoke with Bhagwati this week, he contrasted Clinton's 'absurd,
ignorant' pleas for Brazil's child labourers with the attitude of Clare
Short. Bhagwati, who sat next to the International Development Secretary
at the WTO in Seattle, described with giggly approval how she kept him in
stitches, mocking a speaker from the African National Congress while the
ANC man spoke of the connection between globalisation and child labour.
'No one in the Clinton administration would have done that.' No, they
would not.

Businessmen lobbying their way into government offices is an old story,
but the supercharged TABD version - infiltration by invitation - began
only in 1995 as the brainchild of Ron Brown, Clinton's first Commerce
Secretary. Brown, who died in a 1996 air crash, was Clinton's Mandelson,
architect of the scheme to turn Democrats into New Democrats, the party of
business. When Brown died, Clinton's passion for pairing with business
passed away too, not uninfluenced by the demolition of the New Democrats
in the 1994 Congressional elections.

Clinton lopped off the 'New' label - take note, Tony - when his good
buddies in industry, sensing his weakness, rushed back to their natural
home in the Republican Party. Clinton still goes through the motions of
meeting TABD, as required by commercial realpolitik, but its leaders, such
as Jim Wootten of the US Chamber of Commerce, tell me they doubt the
President's sincerity.

But Blair is different. 'Blair really believes ,' says Bhagwati admiringly
of Blair's globalising fervour. And TABD members agree. Unlike that scamp
from Arkansas whose expressions of policy are as inconstant as his
expressions of fidelity, Blair is a man of convictions. His heart leaps at
visions of a flexible labour force, of entrepreneurs liberated from
bureaucrats' rule-books, of a new economy relieved of the antique task of
bending metal into Rovers.

In 1997, according to US documents, Blair personally stepped over Margaret
Beckett to water down regulations permitting Americans to build gas-fired
power plants in the UK. He also hopped about to accomplish the other three
tasks on the US Commerce Secretary's favours list.Don't dismiss this as
just a series of tawdry fixes. The Prime Minister rolled out the golden
doormat in Downing Street to American companies because he looks on these
bold screw-the-rules operators as an entrepreneurial stud pool whom he
hopes will breed with and revitalise the hoof-dragging local stock.

It's sad, really. Unlike Clinton, who wised up quickly, Blair confuses the
TABD's self-serving wishlist with a programme of economic salvation. He
trusts his industry darlings will never leave his side. But as his
re-election becomes ever more doubtful, he will find that, as they say in
Arkansas, Tony's been kissed - but he ain't been loved.


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