KOREA-EU FTA WILL FORCE PRIVATIZATION OF WATER SUPPLY AND DETERIORATION OF
The European Union and the Korean
government each made their final approval for the start of Korea-EU Free Trade
Agreement (FTA) negotiations on 24th April and 1st May at the EU
General Affairs and External Relations Council and the Foreign Affairs and
Economy Ministers’ Meeting respectively. The first round of talks is scheduled
to start on 7th May in Seoul.
The Korean government is
venturing upon its FTA with the EU, despite that the Korean people are still
very angered by the Korea-US FTA (KorUS FTA), which took away the life of Huh Se
Wook and is bestrewed with lies and deception.
We oppose the Korea-EU
FTA for various reasons.
all, the Korean government is manipulating public opinion with the same logic
that FTAs will “bring about a prosperous future” used a year ago, when it
started the KorUS FTA. One year ago, at the start of the
KorUS FTA, allegations were raised that the government and related institutions
had fabricated statistics and manipulated public opinion on the ‘positive’
effects of the FTA. What we witness one year later is series of evidence that
the concluded KorUS FTA negotiations were completely in favour of US interests.
However, the Korean government is about to start another important negotiation
without any reflection nor responsibility for its past errors. Once again it is
insisting, without any substantial evidence, that the Korea-EU FTA will foster
the services industry which in turn will improve the lives of ordinary Korean
the consecutive conclusion of KorUS FTA and Korea-EU FTA will have detrimental
effects on the Korean society, particularly on public
services. The KorUS FTA is symbolically
labeled “NAFTA plus” because it is the most profound among the FTAs that US has
concluded. Now European governments and corporations are calling for a FTA that
is at least just as profound or more. In other words, due to the ‘most favoured
nation (MFN)’ clause in all FTAs, negotiating governments and capital are
competing with each other for a higher FTA, for more liberalization,
commercialization and flexibilization of labour. In particular, the so-called
‘future MFN’ clause of the KorUS FTA will bring detrimental results. Should
public services be more liberalized through the Korea-EU FTA, public services
will have to be opened to US capital as well. For example, if water supply,
which was exempt from commitments during KorUS FTA, is included in the Korea-EU
FTA, it will in turn have to be bound to the KorUS FTA as well.
Korea-EU FTA will force privatization of water - our life
itself. Already the government, relevant
research institutions and business circles are saying that EU is very much
interested in services, while Korean capital is looking forward to another
opportunity to promote another wave of restructuring. Public services such as
education, healthcare, electricity, gas and water supply are likely to be
included in this process. In particular, because most of top 10 water
transnational corporations are European, even the government has acknowledged
that water supply can be liberalized through the Korea-EU FTA. The problem is
that the Korean government does not seem to have any will to negotiate
Already the government
has revised the Water Law several times in order to allow private capital to
participate in waterworks, which is at the moment operated by municipal
governments. Out of the 164 municipal waterworks around the nation, 9 have been
commissioned to Korea Water Resources Corporation (KOWACO), 33 have signed basic
agreements, while Incheon City has signed a MOU with a transnational
corporation, Veolia. Furthermore, the government is pushing forth its ‘Plan to
Foster the Water Industry’, which identifies water not as a public service but
as a commodity and market, and is scheduling relevant legislation during latter
half of this year. Concluding the Korea-EU FTA under these conditions, whereby
national laws and institutions are being revised to allow participation of
private capital in waterworks, will only force privatization and commodification
of water. Regulations that protect waterworks as public entities are expected be
attacked by the various clauses in the FTA, such as national treatment,
competition rules, investor-state dispute settlement to name a few. Water will
become target of profiteering for transnational capital.
Water is our life itself.
The catastrophe that water privatization will entail is beyond our imagination.
Cases such as Bolivia where water rates soared 10~20 times, South Africa where
water was cut off for millions and 300 died of cholera, and Philippines where
cholera also spread and water service limited to 4 hours a day for ordinary
households are now well known to us. Already water rates are getting higher,
while ‘water polarization’ between urban and rural areas is becoming more
serious. Local governments are paying immense amount of money to companies as
operation fees, and waterwork workers are facing job insecurity. Promoting the
‘Plan to Foster the Water Industry’ and negotiating the Korea-EU FTA under these
circumstances will only bring nationwide disaster.
The Korea-EU FTA
negotiations will soon start. We reaffirm that the concluded KorUS FTA is void,
and strongly demand that the government immediately reconsider its plan to start
negotiations with EU. We also call on the government to stop all attempts to
privatize water including the ‘Plan to Foster the Water Industry’ as well as
commissioning of waterworks to the private sector, and to come up with
alternatives that are more public and environmentally friendly.
against Water Privatization, South