Director-General Of WTO Should Also Stop His New Round Campaign

Joint NGO Statement

Geneva, March 19, 2001

We, the undersigned NGOs from the South and the North involved in development, poverty, environment and human rights issues, affirm our objection and opposition to proposals put forward by some countries to launch a “comprehensive New Round” in the WTO this year.

In particular, we are strongly opposed to the introduction of new issues, namely investment rules, competition policy rules and government procurement (even in its initial phase of transparency), in the WTO. We do not want the 4th Ministerial Conference to be made use of as an occasion to inject these new areas into the WTO. We believe these issues are not trade issues and are not appropriate for the WTO to handle. These issues, if located in the WTO, would lead to disastrous consequences socially, environmentally, economically and for human rights, for people worldwide. Negotiations in these issues will be particularly disastrous for people in developing countries, as their possibility for development will be closed.

We also are opposed to the tactic of the EU in proposing a plurilateral approach to investment and competition as this is seen by us, not as a change of heart but only a tactic to draw countries into a New Round. These issues do not belong to WTO and should not be brought in either multilateral or plurilateral mode.

After many of us met many delegations in Geneva to discuss WTO issues, we have found that although some delegations are in favour of a New Round, there are even more countries that are not in favour of a New Round and several are also strongly opposed to it, and especially to the new issues. The proposal for a New Round, especially by the EU, is causing serious divisions and destabilising the multilateral trading system. We call on the proponents to call off their offensive for a Round.

We are also concerned and appalled to find that the Director-General of the WTO has been actively campaigning for a New Round, including his visits to many countries and regions. Since many WTO members are not in favour of a new Round, or are against it, it is unacceptable for a staff member of an international organisation to take sides with some Members against other members. This is what the Director-General has been doing. He must stop this biased behaviour and remain neutral, so as not to further damage the credibility of his office and the Secretariat.

The existing WTO agreement and rules, especially on agriculture, TRIPS, services and TRIMS, are very harmful to consumers’ access to essentials, to livelihood of farmers, to food security, to development interests, to the poor everywhere and to the environment. These agreements must be changed, and some (for example, TRIPS) should even be taken out of the WTO. This should be the focus of the WTO talks in the next years.

We therefore call on all governments in the WTO to reject a New Round and instead focus on solving the serious and disastrous problems, caused by the WTO agreements and their implementation.

Statement endorsed by:

ActionAid (United Kingdom)
Africa Trade Network (Ghana)
Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperative Institute (Japan)
Agriculture Network of Local Government Workers (Japan)
Akita Prefectural Committee against the Set-aside Program and Destruction of Agriculture (Japan)
Alliance for Democracy (United States)
Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) (South Africa)
Arab NGO Network for Development
BLUE 21 e.V. (Germany)
Chiba Prefecture Coordination Committee to Promote Organic Agriculture (Japan)
Chiba Sumire-no-kai Organic Consumers (Japan)
Consumers Union of Japan (Japan)
Consumers’ Association of Penang (Malaysia)
Corporate Europe Observatory (Netherlands)
CorpWatch (USA)
Council of Canadians (Canada)
DAWN Caribbean
Economic Reform Australia (ERA), (Australia)
ECOROPA (Europe)
ENDA Tiers Monde (Senegal)
Focus on the Global South (Thailand)
FoE Costa Rica (Costa Rica)
FoE Finland (Finland)
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (USA)
France Libertes Fondation Danielle Mitterrand (France)
From Aoba to the Earth (Japan)
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) (USA)
Globalization Monitor (Hong Kong)
Gunme Chapter of the New Japan Women’s Association (Japan)
Humanitarian Group for Social Development (HGSD) (Lebanon)
Ibaraki Prefecture Council of Agricultural Extension Workers (Japan)
IBON Foundation, Inc. (Philippines)
ILSA (Colombia)
Institute for Cultural Ecology (USA)
Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) (United States)
Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Uruguay)
International Contribution Club “Forum” (Japan)
International NGO Forum on Indonesia Development (INFID) (Indonesia)
International Simultaneous Policy Organisation - ISPO
International South Group Network - ISGN
International Trade for Human Wellbeing (Canada)
Japan Organic Agriculture Association (Japan)
KWWAU (Korea)
Legal Resources Centre (Philippines)
Miyagi Prefecture Food and Agriculture Network (Japan)
NESSFE (Japan)
Network NOEN (Japan)
Niigata Independent Farmers Union (Japan)
Polaris Institute (Canada)
Public Citizen (United States)
Quest 2025 (Australia)
Seikatsu Club Consumers Cooperative Nagano Federation (Japan)
Seikatsu Club Consumers Cooperative Yamanashi Federation (Japan)
Shinjo Rice Paddy Trust (Japan)
Solon Foundation (Bolivia)
The Anti-Globalisation Network (UK)
The Daughters Sisters Project (USA)
The Edmonds Institute (USA)
Third World Network
Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)
URFIG (Brussels-Paris-Geneva)
WEED (Germany)
World Development Movement (UK)

updated: Wednesday, April 04, 2001
organizations: 65

NOTE: For more information, and for endorsement of this statement, please write to Cecilia Oh, Third World Network, at email: