No DCFTA in Tunisia / لا للآليكا في تونس

2 May by Collective


The European Union is currently negotiating a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with Tunisia. The EU wants its companies to get open access to the Tunisian market, and aims at imposing its norms, standards and procedures. Such an agreement would most probably worsen the socio-economic problems faced by Tunisia to benefit only to European corporations, and especially French ones.

As European organisations and movements, we denounce this DCFTA as a violent neo-colonial project. In solidarity with Tunisian organisations that oppose this agreement, we support their struggle against liberal policies imposed upon them by the European Union.

DCFTA: when liberalism and colonialism go hand in hand

The DCFTA is the last stone of a long colonial history between Europe and Tunisia. The land issue epitomises this relationship. After its independence, on the 20th of March 1956, Tunisia was recovering its expropriated agricultural land. However, European settlers still held on vast properties, until president Bourguiba enacted the “agricultural evacuation” law, on the 12th of May 1964, to prevent strangers from owning lands. Afterwards, under the dictatorial rule of Ben Ali, these public lands taken back from settlers were privatised under the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

http://imf.org
pressure, a significant part being allocated to relatives and friends of the regime. Rising against the regime, people aimed at taking back these lands during the revolutionary movement of winter 2010-2011. Nonetheless, they were not able to reverse the dynamics of land concentration, export orientation and agricultural intensification, which grow at the expense of the peasantry, guardian of food sovereignty. And today, the DCFTA would make it possible again for European multinational corporations to exploit Tunisian agricultural land.

Besides, the EU aims at finding new markets for its agricultural surplus. Some sectors of Tunisian agriculture (cereals, livestock farming, some vegetable oils…) will be replaced by European imports. Hence, Tunisia will see its foreign dependence on basic foodstuffs increase while losing food sovereignty. According to UTAP (Tunisian union for agriculture and fishing), up to 250 000 farmers may disappear.

Agriculture is only one of the sectors threatened by liberalism. In 1995, the Association Agreement between EU and Tunisia opened the industrial sectors by eliminating tariffs. After two decades, hundreds of companies disappeared, especially in the textile sector, which is in dire straits. Meanwhile, European companies settled in Tunisia where they benefited from tax heaven like privileges and from cheap labour force. Mass unemployment and poverty are directly linked to such an economic domination. However, far from learning from a decade of social movements and economic hardship, the European Union keeps on imposing the same policies upon Tunisia.


New privileges for Europe and multinational corporations

Thanks to the DCFTA, the EU keeps control of Tunisia by exporting its economic model. Competition rules are to be copied from the European model, in the pursuit of « pure and perfect » competition. Subsidies are gradually being phased out, commodity prices can no longer be set by the State and public aid is being granted according to European criteria, with direct control by the European Commission for five years. In addition, ALECA forces Tunisia to adopt European standards: an Algerian or Chinese product that does not comply with them could not enter Tunisia. The aim is therefore to create a Tunisian market exclusively reserved for European products.

The DCFTA also contains an arbitration clause that allows multinationals to sue states before a special court, placed above national courts. These multinationals could cancel measures of common interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. (social protection, health, environment…), in Europe as well as in Tunisia. This provision has already cost hundreds of millions of dollars to states that have tried to regulate the economy to protect the public interest. The arbitration system places the profits of multinationals above fundamental rights. It has been denounced by European mobilisations against TAFTA and CETA and must disappear. It would be unbearable to impose it on Tunisia.

The DCFTA also contains an arbitration clause that allows multinationals to sue states before a special court, placed above national courts. These multinationals could cancel measures of common interest (social protection, health, environment…), in Europe as well as in Tunisia. This provision has already cost hundreds of millions of dollars to states that have tried to regulate the economy to protect the public interest. The arbitration system places the profits of multinationals above fundamental rights. It has been denounced by European mobilisations against TAFTA and CETA and must disappear. It would be unbearable to impose it on Tunisia.


A dead end for Tunisia’s problems

The productivist requirements of export will put more pressure on Tunisian natural resources, particularly water, while Tunisia is already under water stress.The situation is worsening because of climate change, largely triggered by polluting industry or intensive agriculture models, promoted and applied for decades by Europe. DCFTA therefore goes against current challenges and risks worsening a critical ecological situation.

In the meantime, the EU is pursuing its border control policy. Originally, ALECA did not plan to facilitate the mobility of Tunisian workers. The European labour market uses low-skilled immigrant labour, such as the hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, in cleaning or catering. However, to ensure the support of the Tunisian government, Europe is promising the creation of a new visa with simplified conditions for privileged categories of people. Indeed, the liberal and colonial logic allows a handful of business people and executives to travel and give a good picture of the « historical links » between Europe and Tunisia, while the majority of the population faces visa denials or the perilous experience of illegal border crossings. Following this liberal and repressive control of migration, Tunisia is kept at the bottom of the international division of labour.

Like all free trade agreements, the DCFTA is synonymous with exploitation for all populations, and an economic and neo-colonial exploitation for the Tunisian population. The economic benefits will only concern a few large companies and the agreement could aggravate the unemployment and inequality issues in Tunisia.

The DCFTA process is already underway. Liberal reforms are already being imposed by the debt plans of the IMF and the European Union: laws are being passed, such as the independence of the Tunisian Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

ECB : http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/Pages/home.aspx
, an investment code favourable to multinationals, lower subsidies, the law on sanitary and phytosanitary standards, etc.

It is therefore essential to mobilize against DCFTA insofar as it is an extension of European and French neo-colonial policies. In addition, the same project is intended to be proposed to all Mediterranean countries: Morocco, the first country with which the EU started negotiations, interrupted them in 2014 under pressure from Moroccan civil society, while an impact study is being conducted; the EU is also in the discussion phase prior to negotiations with Jordan and Egypt. To block the DCFTA means counteracting against Europe’s free trade and imperialist project throughout the region.

We ask for:

  • The end of negotiations between the EU and Tunisia on ALECA.
  • Respect for the sovereignty of Tunisia.
  • An end to the plundering of Tunisia’s natural resources and tax privileges for European companies.
  • The cancellation of odious debts contracted by the Tunisian State with the EU without the agreement of the Tunisian people.
  • Freedom of movement and settlement for all.

Arabic version: http://arabic.cadtm.org/2019/05/02/%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%B6%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%84-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85/


First signatories
(Organizations that want to sign the call can write to : no-aleca at riseup.net)

France:

  1. Association Survie
  2. Les Amis du Monde Diplomatique
  3. Confédération paysanne
  4. Aitec-IPAM
  5. ATTAC France
  6. Les Amis de la Terre

Italy:

  1. Fairwatch
  2. Stop TTIP CETA Italia Campaign

Belgium:

  1. Comité pour l’abolition des dettes illégitimes (CADTM)
  2. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
  3. Entraide et Fraternité

Ireland:

  1. KEEP IRELAND FRACKING FREE
  2. FÍS NUA

Spain:

  1. ATTAC Spain

Austria:

  1. Anders Handeln
  2. ATTAC Austria


cadtm.org

Translation(s)

CADTM

COMMITTEE FOR THE ABOLITION OF ILLEGITIMATE DEBT

35 rue Fabry
4000 - Liège- Belgique

00324 226 62 85
info@cadtm.org

cadtm.org