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Apec's global vision a 'real worry'

Christchurch Star, May 12 1999

Apec's global vision a 'real worry' says law professor

By Marianne Betts

Apec's policies are dangerous but its crumbling status means it can not be taken too seriously, says a leading critic.

Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey, in Christchurch last week for anti-Apec meetings, said Apec now lacked substance and had become fraught with international tensions.

She said it had problems of legitimacy in the way it operated in secrecy and was lacking credibility.

Despite this, she said the Apec's vision of global free markets and free trade was a "real worry".

She said the Apec agenda had already been seen on a micro-level in New Zealand with the introduction of Rogernomics 15 years ago. During most of that period, contrary to predictions, this country had seen slow economic growth.

Dr Kelsey said Apec's agenda encouraged privatisation of state assets and services, and foreign investment - policies that in New Zealand had seen transnational companies pumping most of their profits out of the country.

Dr Kelsey said these policies and others embraced by Apec had serious flow-on effects, including increased inequality and poverty, especially for indigenous peoples, women, children, and the elderly.

They benefited an elite in New Zealand, but widened the gap between rich and poor, and created a drop in employment standards as workers competed to produce goods for the least cost.

She said Apec emerged in 1989 in the Asia-Pacific region after major trade blocks were established in Europe and North America.

However, she said Apec had big problems, as they were not even delivering what big business wanted, and the Business Advisory Council had been scathing about Apec.

She said Apec "exists" and the host Government each year would not want to be responsible for de-establishing it, "so it is likely to limp on".

New Zealand is hosting Apec this year with the small and medium enterprises and senior officials meetings having recently been held in Christchurch. Other meetings are planned around the country, in the lead up to the leader's meeting in Auckland in September.

Return to: "Resist APEC".

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