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Institute for Public Accuracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 15, 2005
12:35 PM

CONTACT: Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

 
WTO and Wal-Mart
 

WASHINGTON - December 15 - A controversial World Trade Organization services agreement that will be discussed at this week's WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong poses a serious threat to state and local authority over land use policy, according to a briefing paper released by Public Citizen.


SARA JOHNSON
Johnson is state and local outreach coordinator for Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division, which has just released the paper "Big Box Backlash: The Stealth Campaign at the World Trade Organization to Pre-empt Local Control Over Land Use." Johnson said today: "Major big box retail corporations have been eyeing the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services as a way of gutting local zoning and land use laws that have kept them out of communities in Europe and the United States. ... Wal-Mart is just one of the firms that have been lobbying both the U.S. government and the WTO on this issue."
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JEFF MILCHEN
Milchen directs ReclaimDemocracy.org, a non-profit organization focused on restoring citizen authority over corporations. He wrote the recent article "Beyond Wal-Mart." Milchen said today: "Big box stores often ride roughshod over communities by running their own ballot initiatives when a town makes law that corporate executives dislike. Now they aim to pre-empt democracy entirely by using the WTO to override local decision-making authority. ... We need to recognize that Wal-Mart is merely the corporation most efficient at exploiting structural problems -- it's the symptom, not the disease. We need root-level changes to halt the growth of parasitic corporations like Wal-Mart and instead encourage business models that advance democracy, strong communities and widely shared economic prosperity."
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STACY MITCHELL
Mitchell is the author of the book The Home Town Advantage: How To Defend Your Main Street Against Chain Stores and Why It Matters and a researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has helped dozens of cities and towns across the U.S. enact local ordinances limiting big box expansion. She said today: "As the tide of communities acting to curb big box sprawl swells, Wal-Mart and other mega-retailers are now looking to run an end-game around local authority by harnessing the power of the WTO."
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JENNIFER ROCKNE
Rockne directs the American Independent Business Alliance, a national organization helping communities support independent businesses. She said today: "Communities nationwide are organizing successfully to resist the proliferation of chain stores and, instead, nurturing the development of healthy local economies with primarily community-based businesses."
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