Why the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement is Bad for Us

Dr. Susan Hawthorne

Department of Communication, Language and Cultural Studies, Victoria University, St Albans Campus, Melbourne, Australia

email: hawsu@spinifexpress.com.au

At the end of 2002 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade called for submissions on the proposed Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). The call was put out on 11 December 2002 with a deadline of 15 January 2003. Since this is the period when most working people take annual summer holidays, the timing suggests that the government negotiators were not really interested in receiving substantive responses.

During 2003 I have watched with growing concern the apathy and disinterest of the media in the upcoming bilateral agreement. I began writing about it in late 2002, and the following article is made up of two shorter articles which were published in Arena. The first appeared in Arena Magazine, No. 63. Feb-March: 29-32. The second article which focuses on the likely impact on women appeared in Arena Magazine, No. 68. Dec-Jan:10-11. The second was in fact a much-edited version of two papers I gave in the middle of the year. The first was at the International Association for Feminist Economics Conference in Barbados, and the second was at the Australian Women’s Studies Association Conference in Brisbane. These papers were in part the result of my attendance at yet another conference on Women and GATS which was held in Köln, Germany in May. The conference in Köln reinforced the view I’d had for some time that the WTO multilateral agreements are very bad for women, and they are also bad for Indigenous people, anyone who is poor or displaced or marginalised by health, education or location factors or for any of the other numerous reasons this occurs.

At the beginning of 2003 I expressed the view that Howard’s reason for backing Bush in the war against Iraq had a lot to do with the AUSFTA. As the year has gone on, this view has not only been reinforced by events, but even acknowledged by Howard. The other sectors who are said to benefit from the agreement are farmers, but farmers are disputing this, and as I point out in Part 1, there are many reasons why this so-called promise will not bear fruit, for farmers or for consumers.

At one stage in the year I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with an American representative – a woman who knows Bob Zoellick, the US Trade Representative in charge of the negotiations – at a gathering in Melbourne. I felt like an imposter, but I was interested to hear the arguments from the other side. I was convinced, indeed they did not seem like very good arguments – most of them had to do with making things better for consumers. It’s a bit like hearing Arnold Schwartznegger say he won’t put up taxes because that hurts the poor, so instead the poor now have to pay bigger fees for education, health and access to National Parks. As there’s no sliding scale the poor in fact are hurt most, but it looks like choice and so is more acceptable.

The AUSFTA is due to present a report (how public it will be remains to be seen) at the end of January 2004, I therefore urge you to read the following articles and begin to protest against agreements that sell all Australians short, especially women.

Part 1: Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement: Free Trade or Free Access for US Companies?

Australia, under the Howard government, seems intent on lying down for the US government. Not only is Howard heeling Bush in the likely war on Iraq, this government is also keen to open up the Australian economy to the point where Australian sovereignty is under threat.

What is Free Trade?

Freedom is a much-misused word, no more so than its use in global economic talk with the language of “free trade” and “free choice”. Such usage misrepresents the idea of “freedom” as one that is closely intertwined with responsibility. Within the realm of neo-classical economics, globalisation and the free trade mantras of transnational companies freedom has no association with responsibility at all.

Women found out about the double bind of freedom in the 1960s when “free love” was bandied about, but the only ones benefiting from this freedom were men who now had easy access to women’s bodies under the guise of fulfilling a new social trend. Women, by contrast, became pregnant, putting a fast end to a free and easy lifestyle; or suffered guilt at their jealousy of men’s multiple partnerships; or got free sexually transmitted diseases; or they got out, moved on, called themselves feminists and began to critique this masculine rip off for what it was.

In the world of international trade, transnational companies, the US government and institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are like the “free love” gurus of the 1960s. As the more powerful player they get to make the rules, tip the playing field so that it is not level and score the game as well.

Who is keen on Free Trade?
Not surprisingly, those who are in favour of free trade are overwhelmingly from the transnational sector. Its primary feature is its wealth; it is also a highly mobile group: whether they be companies who move the factories from on shore to offshore or whether they are highly mobile individuals with significant cash surplus or whether they are well-paid employees of governments, transnational companies, the UN or institutions such as the WTO.

In looking at the composition of institutions it is instructive to see precisely who makes up these organisations. Take the Intellectual Property Committee which was co-founded by IBM and Pfizer. These are major players in the global economy and two of the largest economic entities in the world. Their colleagues in the IPC are likewise major corporations and include DuPont, General Electric and Monsanto – major players in chemical, military and biological arenas. What is relevant about this is that these companies are self-appointed arbiters of the many intellectual property rules that are then developed within the World Trade Organisation based on recommendations and lobbying by the transnational sector. The WTO’s brief, so far as intellectual property rights are concerned is to create a system of harmonised laws based on western law and intended to satisfy the needs of western industrialised countries.

George Bush is keen on a Free Trade Agreement providing that “everything is on the table” (Berkelmans et al. 2001: 1). In other words, he is keen providing that the USA can gain maximum benefit from the deal. This is therefore not a Fair Trade Agreement since the USA is by far the dominant trader of the two which can be readily seen from the comparative importance of trade between the USA and Australia (see Chart 2 Berkelmans et al. 2001: x). While exports from Australia to the USA represent 11% of total exports from Australia, when those exports arrive in the US market they represent a mere 0.7% of total imports within the US market. That is a factor of more than 15 fold. Because Australia is a relatively small trading partner for the USA, the impact on the US economy is very small, but conversely the overall impact on the Australian economy is very significant and could have profound and longlasting effects. Australia’s economy is comparable in size to some state economies in the USA – Pennsylvania and Illinois are mentioned in the literature.

Given that the impact on the US economy is so small, what could be the reasons behind the USA’s enthusiasm for an AUSFTA? A quick look at the membership of the American-Australian Free Trade Agreement Coalition (AAFTAC), a US-based organisation which is dedicated to promoting the FTA may offer some clues. Four “recent new members” listed are DuPont, Merck, Nufarm Americas and Pfizer. Further down the complete list we find companies such as Custom Biologicals, Inc, General Electric, Halliburton, IBM (www.aaftac.org). Given that Australia is one of the countries considered to be extremely biologically diverse, I find it disturbing that an AUSFTA would make access to biologically significant plants which have not yet been patented or commercially developed even easier. Such as prospect threatens the intellectual property of Australia’s Indigenous peoples and moves both the knowledge and the species out of the public domain into the private hands of US-based transnational companies. These impacts are not given any consideration in the Centre for International Economics (CIE) document.

CIE point out that the United States would “overwhelmingly dominate AUSFTA” (Berkelmans 2001:3) if it were fully implemented today.

“The United States has expressed concern that Australia keeps out chicken, pork, corn and Californian grapes unnecessarily” (Berkelmans et al. 2001: 7). But we have just seen how when US corn is imported, as it has been in the second week of January 2003 that when the shipment arrives the general Australian public finds out that it contains genetically modified corn. Pressure is being put on Australia to revoke our very weak labelling laws which at present are the only source of information for the general consumer (GeneEthics Network: 10 Jan 2003). It appears that the USA is either unwilling or unable to control what kind of grain leaves its shores. Or, it is intentionally ensuring that grain leaving US shores always includes genetically modified produce. This was the case when grain was sent to Zambia in 2002 to offset civilian food shortages; and again in Australia corn sent as feed grain for drought relief also contains genetically modified seed.(1)

As the Australian APEC Study Centre point out “In globalised production systems, it is an increasingly viable option for producers to relocate to sites where better-priced supplies are available” (Australian APEC Study Centre 2001: 39). The implication of this is a wholesale takeover of Australian agriculture by US-based agribusiness companies whose agricultural systems are not context sensitive, indeed their intention is to homogenise everything in sight. Changes to Australia’s quarantine system and to intellectual property status are both potential losses. My presumption is that the Howard government is trying to push through the AUSFTA ahead of the conclusion to FTAA negotiations in 2005 because major agricultural competitors – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile – in sugar, dairy, wine and beef are located in South America (Australian APEC Study Centre 2001: 53-4).

Who benefits?
The Australian sugar and dairy industries will increase significantly in scale with CIE estimating that “exports of sugar to the United States could rise by 2550 per cent” (2001: p. viii). As they point out this is off a very low base. My question here is what effect would an increasingly large sugar industry have on Australia, not economically, but ecologically. Already huge areas of rainforest in northern Queensland have been flattened to create arable land for the sugar industry. The sugar monoculture is not something that as a nation we should be increasing. Instead we should be thinking of ways that we can reduce the acreage of land under sugar cultivation. But when the economics card is played, ecological considerations are thrown out. The effect on the price of sugar in Australia if the FTA were implemented in full would be an increase of 13% (IE 2001: 96). This outcome is very similar to the impact of dairy regulation in Australia in 2001 (Dunlop 2001) which has led to many small dairy farmers going out of business. The contest is between two competing systems. Those in the transnational sector are for deregulation and intensification of farming methods alongside a standardised product and export orientation. The AUSFTA is just one more part of this systemic process as it will increase the export market for Australian dairy produce, intensify and standardise its products for American market needs, and result in further dislocation of small dairy producers.

Do we really want to become an agribusiness colony for the USA? Just at a time when farmers and legislators are becoming more and more aware of the impact of irrigation on salination, of the need to understand how to work in concert with local ecological conditions, how to farm in ways that take account of drought cycles the country is potentially going to open it doors to increased agricultural investment (Berkelmans et al. 2001: 24). And what kind of investment can we expect? It would encompass biotechnologies of all kinds, an increase in the acreage of genetically modified crops such as corn, and cotton, and an increasing emphasis on monocultural cropping which is highly destructive in an environment such as Australia where large parts of the country used for agriculture are already considered marginal.

Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs)
Intellectual property has become the mantra of the “new economy”. This term is frequently used in the APEC report as one the major reasons for pursuing the AUSFTA. The new economy is the knowledge economy and intellectual property is a central part of its profitability. Intellectual property includes not only copyrights and other intellectual content, but also patents. One of the core reasons why intellectual property is considered so profitable is because its initial value is so low that it is in effect “free”. Capitalism thrives on turning free resources into value-added resources which then create massive profits, Michael Dove in a very fine study of tropical forests and development (1993) makes two important points. He argues that whatever of value is found or developed by indigenous forest peoples – particular tree species, mineral deposits, butterflies, medicines – will never earn for the forest people what it would earn in the open market. And further that the value of these things changes over time as they are progressively redefined by elites who “do not just control valuable forest resources, they also control the discourse regarding these resources” (1993: 22). In a way, this is what is occurring under the proposal for an AUSFTA. New value is being redefined; new markets are being touted; and new management systems will be put in place to ensure that that the knowledge economy grows in just the way it should to the benefit of the USA.

In order for that new economy to continue to grow, a constant stream of new resources is required. Australia, as one of the world’s hot spots of biodiversity is in a good position to supply such a constant stream of new free resources. With no barriers in place for large US-based companies to explore the rainforests, the deserts and the reefs a massive hunt will begin for biological products which can cure cancer, AIDS(2) , schizophrenia, menopause, obesity and a host of other profitable ailments.

Biotechnology is dependent on wild stock and on biodiversity for its continued growth. If biodiversity is not nurtured in situ, the resources for biotechnology will cease to exist. Biodiversity cannot be replicated in laboratories: it requires living ecosystems. Countries which are biodiversity hot spots such as Australia, Mexico and Brazil (just to name three) are therefore useful biological laboratories for US-based companies and all three are part of the three free trade areas of which the USA is actually or potentially a part (AUSFTA, NAFTA and FTAA).

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Although GATS is part of the WTO, the AUSFTA will bring forward US access to trade in services in Australia. When complete liberalisation occurs as it would under AUSFTA, there would be free trade in services without any restrictions. This favours the richer country and corporations specialising in service provision. Free trade in services makes it difficult to create locally oriented and responsive services, whether through community action, local government or private business initiatives. The services under threat through GATS and through the AUSFTA which will enable US corporations free access to the Australian market include banking, transport, telecommunications, prisons, health, education and utilities such as water. Let me look at the last three listed: health, education and water. All are lucrative and growing markets.

In the area of health care, community health centres could be taken over by large US-based health maintenance organisations without any recourse from the local community. A US-based multinational HMO could sue a local council if it believed it had been “discriminated” against. Given that the companies running such HMOs have significantly more resources than most local councils, simply threatening such an action could bring councils to their knees. If the council decided to fight the intrusion, it could be bankrupted. The AUSFTA also has implications for the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, which, because it keeps pharmaceutical costs artificially low, it is argued that it restricts investment. We should therefore expect a big shake up of the PBS scheme if the AUSFTA goes ahead. The impact of this, and the threat to community-based health centres, both affect the poorest people in the community and it will have a particularly strong impact on women as carers, mothers and as the ones most likely to be responsible for paying for pharmaceutical drugs.

In a growing knowledge economy, the importance of education cannot be understated. With the Australian education system moving to a model more like the USA, it is likely that changes to the system could be reasonably easily implemented. But what does this mean for Australian education? Will HECS disappear? I feel somewhat hesitant to ask this question as if HECS were a good thing. As I am part of the generation who had genuine free access to tertiary education, I do not wish to defend HECS. However, like Medicare, it is considerably better than anything in place in the USA. As with health, there is a good chance that prestigious and well-funded US universities will want a bite of the Australian education pie. Will that mean that the inward-looking US system of education will be transported to Australia which has a tradition of outward looking? Will US content be even more pervasive than it is now, not just through the media but also through the education system? Further, since the government would have to give equal access to funding of foreign private universities, it would reduce the amount of funding available for the public system (AFTINET 2002).

The privatisation of water and other utility services is also of extreme concern. Global water servicing companies are waiting for GATS to be implemented and an AUSFTA would give US-based companies a head start on entering this extremely lucrative market. Given that the Howard government’s position on GATS is to allow water services to be included, they will also be a part of an AUSFTA. Public ownership of water is essential. It is something we all depend on and should be subject to strict controls and not allowed to be owned by private companies who will put profit ahead of safety and access.

Many Australian prisons and correctional services – including detention centres – are already being run by prison service companies. Stuart Rintoul in a recent article in The Australian writes about one such company run by George Wackenhut who has been accused of transporting “raw materials for chemical weapons to Iraq” (2002: 6). Such shady dealings, plus the fact that detention centres have become such a travesty of justice in Australia is yet another reason to question the social value of an AUSFTA.

Australia’s geo-strategic significance
The AAFTAC website states:

“It is apparent that with the legal, regulatory, and ideological similarities between the United States and Australia, and with the background of our military and security relationship and the ANZUS treaty, Australia is an ideal trading partner” (www.aaftac.org).

This is likely to be one of the major background issues for the US government. The Howard and Bush governments claim they have common security interests, but Australia is the fall-guy in this relationship providing important intelligence through bases at Pine Gap and Cockburn Sound. The USA needs Australia’s location at the base of a potentially volatile part of the world. This is a sharp shift in policy between Australia and the USA which has maintained separation between trade and security since World War II. Howard’s lapdog support of Bush’s war aims in Iraq may well assist in getting the AUSFTA through. But will the outcome really be of benefit to the social and political make-up of Australia?

The Australia-US FTA
The impact of an AUSFTA on the Australian public is not as the background papers would suggest. Here are some of the impacts and implications which I have discussed in this article:
• Australian sugar prices would rise by 13%.
• An increase in unsustainable farming through increased acreage of monocultures such as sugar.
• Small dairy farmers would have even less chance of being able to compete in an industry open to US-based agribusiness. Feedlots and intensified factory farming would decrease the quality of milk available to the consumer.
• Genetically modified crops would have an increased likelihood of being grown widely in Australia, again undermining the quality of food available to the consumer.
• Indigenous ownership of knowledge of biological resources will be threatened even more than it is now. Open access to US-based companies will create profits for transnationals and dispossess Indigenous peoples.
• Australian intellectual property – artistic and biological – will be increasingly owned by US companies and institutions.
• Access to health services for everyone, whatever their ability to pay, will be undermined and the cost of pharmaceuticals will rise.
• Access to an Australian-run primarily public education system will be undermined as fewer resources will be available for the public system as privately-owned, US-based educational institutions make claims for equal funding from the federal government.
• Water and other utility services will be increasingly privatised and public ownership and access threatened. The result is profit at the expense of access and safety.
• Detention centres will become an even more lucrative market for US-based correctional services companies.
• Australia’s military security will be increasingly in the hands of the USA, finalising the complete colonisation of Australia, its resources and people, by the USA.

Is this the future we want for Australia?


Part 2: Trading on the Usual Illusions: Women will bear the brunt of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement

The skewing of public debate about the Australia United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) is no doubt motivated, in part, by the fact that it is unlikely to bring prosperity to Australia. The AUSFTA threatens to open Australia’s market to US companies ahead of other country markets and in ways that expose Australia to a complete overhaul of public and private services to fit the US model. Such an overhaul will be detrimental across a plethora of sectors, but it is in the services sector where its effects will be greatest.

Wherever free trade agreements are concluded, their impact on women is significant, as it is on those living in poverty, on refugees, on the elderly, chronically ill and disabled and on Indigenous peoples, the marginalised and the dispossessed. As all these other groups also include women — women make up most of those living poverty, most refugees are women and children and it is women who are the main carers for the elderly and disabled — the impact will be amplified.

AUSTFA needs to be understood in the context of the General Agreement in Trade in Services (GATS). GATS is a very broad-ranging agreement regulating the trade in services. It is expected to be implemented on 1 January 2005, ten years after the establishment of the World Trade Organisation. This is by no means its final format as GATS includes a clause on continuous negotiations, meaning that it is likely that the shape of GATS will change over time and result in an increasingly liberalised world economy.

It will also change because of the incredibly broad range of activities that come under the category of 'services'. The World Trade Organisation has identified eleven broad sectors of services under GATS, including activities as diverse as accounting, veterinary, postal and courier services, construction and related engineering services, retail, wholesale and franchising, education, tourism, health, environmental industries, transport and ‘Other’ — a category that includes energy related services.

A great deal of detail is left out of this list. The International Chamber of Commerce, for example, has noted that manufacturing industries are infused with services from beginning to end; research and development, inventory management and control, transport, marketing, advertising, insurance and ‘backroom’ functions such as accounting and legal services. In fact, every sector mentioned involves a complex interweaving of services that makes just about everything else redundant. Service industries are now the largest employment and it is a sector that is growing annually.

In addition to the above sectors under GATS, the proposed AUSFTA also includes significant changes to agricultural policy and marketing as well as threats to intellectual property, in particular to Indigenous knowledge systems. The overall impact of the AUSFTA will therefore be even more far-reaching than the GATS. The AUSFTA is due to be finalised in December 2003, rather than the later date for GATS of 2005, thus allowing early US access to Australian markets.

Current proposals for free trade in services will have a disproportionately negative effect on women. It’s old news that women’s lives have generally different patterns from men. Unlike the 17-year-old male entry student who completes a degree and moves on to work or straight on to higher study (no matter how much an individual male life varies from this pattern), women tend to study, work, play, take time off for travel or children in a variety of ways which are not suited to the straight-jacketing style the Howard-Costello Government would like us all to fit into.

Take, for example the situation of Gerry Corbett, a 35-year-old single mother who recently featured in an article in the Sunday Age. Her life pattern exemplifies the patchwork of study, work and life that many women encounter. For Gerry Corbett, paying up-front means giving up other things — ‘the idea of buying a house, a second child’. Her pattern of study is to build on the skills she already has, to broaden her knowledge base, to incorporate study into the pattern of her life. These are precisely the patterns of flexibility that make women well suited to the global economy, and yet this government, so keen on globalisation, can’t even see the contradictions.

And there are many women in greater financial hardship than this example. Women who are trying to raise several children on their own; women who care for their parents or siblings or partners; women trying to upgrade their qualifications so that they can earn more than 70 per cent of the male average wage; women returning to study later in life working to enable them to live while they study. These are the ones who will feel the impact of the AUSFTA which opens the doors to well-resourced US universities selling their wares to the highest bidder.

It might be argued that because women are now entering institutions of higher education in greater numbers than men, the system is in the process of tipping the playing field again to benefit men. This is not unlike the ‘adjustments’ that were made to the early IQ tests when women scored 15 per cent higher than men. And so it was adjusted, and men began to do just as well or better!

Turning to health services, as social services are opened to competition, and the giant US HMO’s enter the Australian market, women will again bear the brunt of free trade. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, a system which ‘ties the price of … [all pharmaceutical drugs] to the lowest priced medicine in the same therapeutic chemical group regardless of patent status of the medicines’ is regarded as a trade barrier, although it is very successful in creating wide access to pharmaceutical drugs by Australians. With the acceptance of PBS into the AUSFTA negotiations, according to the Australia Institute Discussion Paper Trading in Our Health System?, prescription prices for non-concession card holders could rise from $23.10 on average to a whopping $64. There is no benefit to the general Australian population of such a rise. Indeed, like other aspects of the AUSFTA, the only beneficiary will be the US-based pharmaceutical corporations.

Women are the ones who predominantly look after sick people; they are the ones who still raise children, stay home with them when they are sick and buy their medicines. Because women live longer than men, they are also among the majority of the elderly who depend heavily on prescription drugs. Research suggests that the chronically ill and the elderly account for more than 80 per cent of pharmaceutical purchases in Australia. Further, as a proportion of income, the poorest 20 per cent of Australians spend seven times as much on medicines and other health products as the richest 20 per cent.

Women are over-represented in both of these categories as well as being the group most likely to be responsible for the care of the chronically ill and elderly. The shift from a universal health care system to a two-tiered system is a shift which is occurring to ease the way for the FTA between Australia and the USA. It will also make it easier for GATS to be implemented. Major policy changes put forward by the Howard Government are setting Australia up for further trade liberalisation, not because it is good for Australians but because the government likes the sound of its own ideology.

The result will not bring benefits to the Australian community, but rather a transfer of profit to US-based pharmaceutical companies. These companies argue that consumers should ‘take greater financial responsibility for their health’, but what they really mean is that consumers should contribute to paying for the excessive marketing costs outlaid by pharmaceutical companies. Under current Australian legislation Direct to Consumer Advertising (DTC) is not permitted since it would undermine the decision-making processes that are a part of the PBS, that is proven efficacy of the drug and the need for the drug both of which are weighed against other available therapies. Just as Nike spends more on marketing than on production of its shoes, pharmaceutical companies in the US spend twice as much on marketing as they do on research and development, so to argue that R&D costs should be contributed to by consumers is ludicrous.

The AUSFTA is not a small and insignificant agreement. It will affect the lives of all Australians in manifold ways. Whether it affects access to community-run health services or reasonably priced public education, rural people or the literary culture of the inner urban world, the knowledge base and culture of Indigenous peoples or access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, each aspect of the AUSFTA will profoundly affect the way we live. Because women are often structurally disadvantaged within these different areas, it is women who will bear the greatest weight of free trade.

In Part 1 I cite from:
American-Australian Free Trade Agreement Coalition (AAFTAC) website. 2003. www.aaftac.org

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET). 2002. Information bulletin on GATS. Sydney: AFTINET.

Australian APEC Study Centre, Monash University.2001. An Australia-USA Free Trade Agreement: Issues and Implications. A Report for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Berkelmans, Leon, Lee Davis, Warwick McKibbin and Andrew Stoekel. 2001. Economic Impacts of an Australia–United States Free Trade Area. A Report prepared for The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Canberra: Centre for International Economics.

Dove, Michael R. (1993). “A Revisionist View of Tropical Deforestation and Development.” Environmental Conservation 20 (1): 17-24.

Dunlop, Ian. (2001). “Milk Deregulation is Good for You: Pull the Udder One.” Margo Kingston's Webdiary. 30 March. 2001. www.smh.com.au/news/webdiary/0104/05/A33180-2001Mar30.html

Rintoul, Stuart, 2002. Detention company’s murky origins. The Weekend Australian. 28-29 December: 6.

Women’s Rights Watch – Nigeria digest, Vol 1 #265. 31 Dec 2002.

In Part 2 I cite from:
Lokuge, K. and Richard Denniss (2003). Trading in our Health System? The Impact of The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Australia Institute Discussion Paper No 55, May.

Moreno, Melissa. 2003. All pay, no play – and a degree of hardship. Sunday Age. 18 May:8.

Sexton, Sarah. (2001). Trading Health Care Away? GATS, Public Services and Privatisation. London: The Corner House, Briefing 23.

Sexton, Sarah. (2003). GATS, Privatisation and Health. Paper presented at Service Without Borders? Plenary at Privatisation, GATS and the Consequences for Women Conference, Köln, 9-11 May.


(1)The African Biodiversity Network has made a statement condemning the irresponsible donation of GM crops to nations such as Zambia and Malawi effectively presenting them with the option of being “forced to choose between starvation and GM food aid when there are plentiful supplies of non-GM food” (Women’s Rights Watch – Nigeria digest Vol 1 #265, 30 Dec 2002).

(2)The US National Cancer Institute, the WA state government and the Australian Medical and Research Development Corporation (AMRAD) have been involved in commercialising the Western Australia smokebush. Among the companies with whom they have entered into exploratory contracts with is Merck Sharp and Dohme. As pointed out earlier Merck is a “recent new member” of AAFTAC.

Dr Susan Hawthorne, Research Associate in the Department of Communication, Language and Cultural Studies at Victoria University, St Albans Campus, Melbourne.

Susan Hawthorne completed her doctorate in Political Science at the University of Melbourne in 2002. She is the author of Wild Politics: Feminism, Globalisation and Bio/diversity (2002) and co-editor with Bronwyn Winter of September 11, 2001: Feminist Perspectives (2002) and with Renate Klein of CyberFeminism: Connectivity, Critique and Creativity (1999).