The real face of free trade: Greenpeace welcomes WTO delegates to e-waste paradise

Press release - 2005-12-10
Delegates arriving for the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Ministerial Conference were greeted by Greenpeace activists dressed as electronic waste (e-waste), as a warning against further liberalization of trade in industrial goods. Greenpeace activists also depicted 'Chief Executive Mr Tsang' welcoming the discarded computers, to expose Hong Kong's role as a freeport for the world's e-waste. Greenpeace is calling on government delegates to use the Hong Kong ministerial to address the real impacts of free trade; including the dumping of e-waste on developing countries, such as China.

Greenpeace activists dressed as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong 'Mr Tsang' welcoming electronic waste (e-waste) in front of the WTO information counter at the Hong Kong International Airport, as warnings against further liberalization of trade in industrial goods by World Trade Organisation (WTO), and Hong Kong's role as a freeport for the world's e-waste.

Delegates to the WTO MC 6, starting on 13th December, will discuss further liberalization of trade in industrial goods under the non-agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations. While such liberalization will result in more electronic goods being traded, it will also inevitably increase the amount of e-waste being generated and dumped.

'While Hong Kong government advertisements show consumers being spoilt for choice under a liberalized trade system, they have chosen to ignore the uglier side of the picture. Poorly-paid workers in developing countries including China, dismantle end-of-life electronic goods, often by hand, under abysmal conditions in recycling yards. Most of this waste is imported from industrialized nations,' said Daniel Mittler, Trade Policy Advisor at Greenpeace International, 'Until effective social and environmental regulations are put in place, liberalized trade will only mean a further glut of toxic e-waste headed to these scrap-yards.'

Greenpeace activists dressed as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong 'Mr Tsang' welcoming electronic waste (e-waste) in front of the WTO information counter at the Hong Kong International Airport, as warnings against further liberalization of trade in industrial goods by World Trade Organisation (WTO), and Hong Kong's role as a freeport for the world's e-waste.

'Hong Kong has been touting the ministerial as the "Pride of Hong Kong". Just a few kilometres away, the e-waste yards prove how "free trade" has become the shame of Hong Kong,' said Edward Chan, Greenpeace Campaigner, 'The government must stop prioritizing trade interests over those of people and the environment.'

Greenpeace is demanding that delegates to the WTO:

  • Halt the NAMA negotiations in order to prevent further harm to the environment and workers; and
  • Agree to a complete social and environmental review of the global trade system.

Notes:

The Greenpeace position paper, a background paper on the impacts of the NAMA negotiations as well as images of electronic scrap-yards, illustrating the real impacts of free trade, are available at
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/trade-and-the-environment

Categories