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Main Activities

The Korean People's Action against FTA & WTO(KoPA) is a coalition of around 50 NGOs, social movement organizations, political parties, peasant organizations and trade unions. We...

  • believe in mobilizing the masses, bottom up, to resist globalization;
  • work to coordinate and strengthen solidarity between different movements and sectors;
  • perform various activities to mobilize, educate and propagate struggles against neoliberal globalization and its free trade regime;
  • share information, research and analyze negotiations and implications of WTO and FTA, and also strategies of the Korean government;
  • consolidate international solidarity with global movements against neoliberalism, WTO and FTAs.
How and Why KoPA was formed
The IMF restructuring program that was enforced upon Korea just after the economic crisis of 1997 brought about job insecurity, threatened livelihoods and deteriorated human rights of many in Korea. The hardships increased the level of inhuman crimes, many workers were laid-off under the name of structural adjustment, farmers were driven to poverty, rights of women and other social minorities undermined. On the other hand, conglomerates (the "jaebols") were able to strengthen monopoly over markets while the wealth of the rich elite class doublefolded. Transnational speculative capital, responsible for the crisis, deepened dependency of the Korean economy to transnational capital and made the Korean economy even more unstable than before.
It was during this period when neoliberal policies started to unfold in its totality that social movements started to realize the essence of the crisis and its relation to neoliberal globalization. The workers' general strike of 1996-7 manifested that Koreans were not simply going to accept the neoliberal policies. Furthermore, the Korean government at that time was promoting bilateral investment treaties with US and Japan, which contained clauses that would threaten diversity of culture, environment, workers' and farmers' rights. During this process, social movements also realized the urgent necessity to strengthen solidarity and joint actions among different organizations and movements, as well as across the globe. This necessity was furthered while mobilizing against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment(MAI) in 1998, and a few organizations formed a network that eventually grew into KoPA as it is now. After the experiences of Seattle in 1999, the small group of organizations was broadened to form the "Korean People's Action against BIT and WTO(KoPA)".
What we have been doing
KoPA initiated struggles against neoliberal globalization, focusing on bilateral investment and free trade agreements as well as the WTO, IMF and World Bank. It has been working on mobilizing protests in Korea and consolidating international solidarity with movements around the world who are fighting for the same cause.
In particular, KoPA organized mass demonstrations against liberalization of trade and investment during the ASEM meetings of October 2000. Throughout the Kim Dae-Jung government, KoPA continued to campaign against BITs and FTAs, and led the way in manifesting to the public the implications of neoliberal policies and international treaties. As a result, bilateral investment treaties with Japan and the US, and the free trade agreement with Chile was delayed. In 2001, KoPA mobilized against the 4th WTO Ministerial Meeting.
However, as President Kim Dae-Jung's term came nearer to the end, the government sped up its negotiations with Japan to sign an investment treaty based on NAFTA and the MAI. At this, KoPA relaunched its campaigns against the Korea-Japan BIT in solidarity with movements in Japan, however, it failed to put a stop to the BIT. In 2003, KoPA was responsible for mobilizing the 'Korean Delegation for the Cancun Struggle' - a team of 180 peasants, workers and activists to travel to Cancun - to participate in the mobilizations directly against the WTO ministerial meeting itself, as well as mobilizing protests in Korea.
With the government focusing more on FTAs than investment treaties, KoPA strategically changed its name to 'Korean People's Action against FTAs and WTO" at the end of 2003.
Since the beginning of 2004, KoPA has been undertaking actions against the Korea-Japan FTA, which took off in the beginning of the year, and also against the Doha Development Agenda. On the other hand, the government and capital are promoting regional economic integration through regional FTAs. While continuing its campaigns against the multilateral and bilateral free trade systems, it is also initiating research, planning and education against regional agreements and also against the so-called autonomous liberalization measures. In June 2004, KoPA played a big role in initiating struggles against the World Economic Forum during June, 2004, and also in organizing the Asian Social & People's Movements Assembly which took place between 14th and 15th June.

The importance of international solidarity against neoliberal globalization cannot be emphasized enough. From the first World Social Forum in 2001, the Asian Social Forum in 2003 and upto the recent WSF in Mumbai, KoPA - as a member of the International Council of the WSF - has played a major role in publicizing the World Social Forum process and mobilizing participation from Korea. Through the WSF process, KoPA has shared with the international movements experiences of the Korean movement, and also contributed to strengthening internationalism within Korea. It actively builds links with networks of social movements, and also works as a member of Our World is Not for Sale network and the Asia-Pacific part of Jubilee South. KoPA also has strong links with Japanese organizations that are fighting against the Korea-Japan FTA and the WTO in Japan. Based on the experiences of organizing the Asian Social & People's Movements Assembly, KoPA is investigating ways to further promote solidarity and joint struggles among Asian social and peoples' movements.
Main agendas
- Stop militarism and imperialist threats in the Middle East and the Korean peninsula
- Stop bilateral and regional free trade agreements; and the WTO
- Cancellation of third world debt and redistribution of wealth to the people
- Peoples' control of transnational speculative capital
- Stop liberalization and privatization of public services and establishment of Free Economic Zones
Contacts :
Address : 4th F. 8-48, Galwol-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea(140-150)
Tel :+82-2-778-4007 Fax : +82-2-778-4006
E-mail : kopa@jinbo.net Web : http://antiwto.jinbo.net