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LATEST DRAFT OF WTO MINISTERIAL SPELLS DISASTER FOR LEAST DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, SLAPS GLOBAL CITIZENS MOVEMENT

A BLATANT LACK OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESS PREVAILS AT THE WTO AS A “COMPLETE” TEXT IS STEAMROLLED INTO A PROPOSED LAUNCH OF NEGOTIATIONS DESPITE CONTINUED PROTESTS BY MAJORITY OF WTO MEMBERS AND CIVIL SOCIETY

A new draft of a Ministerial Declaration for the WTO’s upcoming Doha summit released this weekend was repudiated strongly by civil society groups from around the world today.  The latest attempt to prepare a document for the WTO meeting, which is planned for November 9-13 in Doha, Qatar, was met with outrage by civil society and disbelief and frustration by developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) because the tone and content of the new text presumes a consensus on a future WTO agenda which does not exist. Non-governmental organizations from around the world called on their governments to denounce this text as illegitimate and to oppose it being moved forward for use at the WTO Doha Ministerial.

This text follows on a previous draft declaration which was widely rejected by developing country WTO delegates. The new text continues to exclude the developing countries’ key demands but includes many proposals to which these WTO Members adamantly object. Last month’s consultations at the WTO have resulted in a further breach of due process by steamrolling ahead with a version that lacks any options or “brackets” around a text that is still heavily disputed.  .  This creates a serious breach of democratic process whereby months of repeated interventions by the majority of the WTO’s own membership have been dismissed. 

In contrast to this text, in reality there remain deep disagreements among WTO Member nations about the organization’s future agenda. Since before the Seattle WTO Ministerial, most developing country WTO Members have demanded that the existing flaws and imbalances in the WTO be addressed, but the U.S. has led unbending opposition to this “implementation agenda.” The European Union push for expansion of WTO disciplines into new issues, such as investment, competition policy and procurement, has been resoundingly rejected by developing nations. There remain significant divisions around the agriculture negotiations where developing countries are pushing for development concerns such as food security and rural development while the US and EU continue to protect their markets through export subsidies and credits. Many WTO Members demand new negotiations on anti-dumping policy but the U.S. has insisted this issues be off the table, although that issue - along with investment, competition, procurement and more - are included as topics for future negotiations in this latest text.

Meanwhile, the list of provisions that developing nation WTO Members have identified for urgent review and repair before any WTO negotiations on new issues are actually more watered down in the latest text. Under existing WTO agreements, the poorest countries’ share of world trade has declined and many poor countries’ development and health policies have come under attack as violations of WTO rules. The new draft responds to these demands by effectively restating the U.S. hardline position that none of these issues will be addressed without further concessions by the developing countries.

The new draft text is also viewed as a slap in the face to the global civil society movement of peasant farmers and fisherfolk, workers, environmentalists who have worked together internationally for years before the Seattle Ministerial and since. Many civil society and labor groups have unified around an effort, dubbed the “Our World Is Not for Sale: WTO-Shrink or Sink” campaign, which calls for transformational change to the WTO. The demands of these groups, which include an array of mass movements and organizations from the developing and developed world and global labor and farmer organizations, were also uniformly dismissed in the latest draft Ministerial text.

The recalcitrance of the WTO Secretariat and the few rich nations who have greatest pull on the WTO agenda to address the developing country and civil society demands is pushing the Doha Ministerial towards an outcome that may either spell disaster for the majority of its members or another Seattle: an outright rejection of an invalid text.

Signers of statement:

Alliance for Democracy, U.S. ,Contact Ruth Caplan (Washington DC): 202-244-0561

Arab NGO Network for Development, Lebanon, Contact Ziad Abdel Samad (Beirut): +961-1-319-366

ECOROPA, France, Contact Agnes Bertrand (Sauve): 33-4-66-77-0704

Focus on the Global South, Thailand, Contact Aileen Kwa (Geneva): 41-22-791-8050

Friends of the Earth - International, Contact: Alexandra Wandel (Brussels) +32-2-542-0185 or Ronnie Hall (London) +44-1243-602-756

Global Exchange, U.S., Contact: Juliette Beck (San Francisco): 415-255-7296 x 254

IBON Foundation, Philippines, Contact Tony Tujan (Manila): +632-714-1580

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, U.S., Contact Shefali Sharma (Geneva) +41-22-789-0724 and Sophia Murphy (Minneapolis) +612-870-3454

Institute for the Re-localization of the Economy, France, Contact Agnes Bertrand (Sauve): 33-4-66-77-0704

Public Citizen, U.S., Contact Margrete Strand (Washington DC): +202-454-5106

Third World Network, Contact Martin Khor (Penang, Malaysia) +604-2266159

Via Campesina, International, Contact Nico Verhagen (Brussels): +32-2-343-8444

 


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