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Seattle Coalition Targets U.S., European Corporate Chiefs’ Globalization Conference in Cincinnati

Nov. 16, 2000

Seattle Coalition Targets U.S., European Corporate Chiefs’ Globalization Conference in Cincinnati

Citizen Summit at the Meeting of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) Spotlights Risks to Democracy, Environment, Labor and Human Rights

CINCINNATI — A coalition of U.S. and European CEOs meeting in private with government officials to obtain special interest policy changes is threatening domestic laws that protect consumers, workers and the environment, representatives of key consumer and environmental groups said today.

Meanwhile, the U.S. public remains largely unaware of this backdoor attack on food safety and other public interest safeguards, the representatives said. Over the past several years, the coalition, called the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), has seen half of its hundred-plus globalization policy demands become law in the U.S. and European governments.

Public Citizen, Coalition for a Humane Economy, Buckeye Forest Council, Farm Labor Organizing Committee and other groups are holding a teach-in, a rally and other events to spotlight the TABD, which is holding three days of closed-door meetings between CEOs and high-level U.S. and European Union (EU) officials in Cincinnati on Nov. 16-18. The protests aim to raise public awareness about the powerful TABD, which to date has operated with impunity.

“The era of backroom deal-making on corporate managed trade and the resulting corporate-led globalization is over,” says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “As we near the anniversary of the Seattle victory halting WTO expansion, the message is clear: From Seattle to D.C., from Perth to Prague, and now in Cincinnati, regular folks say ‘enough’ to anti-democratic corporate globalization and are demanding better.”

The TABD is a coalition of U.S. and European CEOs mainly from large multinational corporations. The TABD started in 1995 at the suggestion of then-Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to allow special direct corporate access to U.S. and EU governments. The TABD agenda calls for dismantling domestic safety, environmental and human rights policies, which it dubs to be “the new obstacles to trade” in its 2000 mid-year report. TABD has also led the push to expand the WTO.

“Corporate America is buying influence and access to government officials and citizens have no say in the matter,” says Susan Heitker of the Buckeye Forest Council. “With workers, consumers, environmentalists and others locked out, important public health, worker safety and environmental protections are vulnerable to being traded away.”

A local Ohio coalition of fair trade activists, environmentalists and faith-based groups have planned a variety of activities to protest the TABD presence in Cincinnati.

“Ohioans believe in fair trade and fair play,” says Sister Alice Geredman, spokesperson for the Coalition for Humane Economy, “We don’t like the idea of transnational companies like Chiquita and Proctor and Gamble meeting behind closed doors with governments to set the trade agenda for all of us. Only when ordinary citizens, environmental, consumer and labor groups have the same access to international government officials can we ensure deals are not being cut that trade away our most treasured protections.”