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.
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
share information, research and analyze negotiations and
implications of WTO and FTA, and also strategies of the
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
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
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.
Stop militarism and imperialist threats in the Middle East
and the Korean peninsula
- Stop bilateral and regional free trade agreements; and the
- 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