Hong Kong Polytechnic University hosted a world premiere last night. If only Wayne Rooney's girlfriend had been present, the first screening of Focus on the Global South's 'Why the WTO is really bad for you' might have been really something.
The film, done in a genre probably best described as political reality TV, charts the outrage of farmers and campaigners, mostly from southeast Asia, as they outline how changes to trade rules have screwed them over. You can watch it here.
Walden Bello, Focus' tireless campaigner-in-chief and long a target for assassination of the Communist Party of the Philippines, apologised in advance for his narration. "I didn't want to narrate it but the director forced me to," says he. "Like all artists, he's an eccentric."
Huddled after the screening, Bello, among the WTO's pithiest critics, puts his objection simply: "The WTO and the Doha Round represent the subordination of development to corporate interests." He fears the negotiations on services and manufactured goods (GATS and NAMA, if you will), will be pushed through as the least developed countries are outflanked by Brazil and India, who in turn will be bought off by the big boys with promises on tweaks to the rules on agricultural subsidies and migration of professionals.
"What developing countries need is policy space," Bello says. "The WTO kills that space."