The seventh WTO Ministerial conference began inwards Geneva today. I volition live bringing yous a regular reportage from Geneva every evening. This volition live written past times several people. I start this with a write-up from Michelle Pressend, who is the policy, advocacy, together with inquiry coordinator of Biowatch together with Coordinator of the Trade Strategy Group, hosted past times the Economic Justice Network inwards Cape Town.
This diary volition live inwards improver to the normal postings on this blog. So delight live create for to a greater extent than informative pieces, together with happy reading.
Legitimacy of WTO Hangs past times a Thread
Date posted: thirty Nov 2009
View this article online here: http://www.sacsis.org.za/site/article/391.1
I’m inwards Geneva, Switzerland together with wrote this article on the eve of the seventh World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial coming together taking house from 27 Nov to 2 Dec 2009 at the WTO’s caput quarters.
I’ve besides but returned from a protestation march against the WTO hither inwards Geneva, attended past times many people, including activists from many parts of the world.
The march was, unfortunately, marred past times a handful of fierce protestors on the fringes of the master copy demonstration. They’ve been getting the lion’s part of media attention. But to prepare the tape straight, the bulk of the 2,000-strong crowd participating inwards the protestation march against the WTO was good-natured, well-organized together with receive got legitimate concerns.
This WTO Ministerial coming together is dissimilar from previous ones. Ministers are coming together, non to negotiate, but to “take stock” of the WTO every bit the international merchandise scheme governing multilateral merchandise rules.
The master copy topic that the coming together is existence conducted nether is “WTO the Multilateral Trading System together with the Current Global Economic Environment.” The agenda volition live examining the state of play of the Doha Round of negotiations together with a mode forward; the occupation of the WTO inwards protectionism stemming from the global fiscal together with economical crisis together with finally, at that topographic point volition live an of import focus on the demand for reform inwards the WTO.
Since its inception inwards 1995, the rules together with negotiations of the WTO receive got been littered with controversy. Indeed, the really nature of WTO policies, based on merchandise liberalization together with deregulation, are fundamental to the electrical flow global economical crisis.
The WTO is i of the most powerful multilateral institutions inwards the world. Its merchandise rules are binding. Once governments’ commit their countries to WTO agreements, they are outpouring to its rules at the national level. If countries want to renege on their commitments because they may, for example, live inwards conflict with national evolution priorities, these countries must pay a compensation fee and/or confront dispute settlement.
These rules are unbalanced together with biased inwards favour of developed countries together with their multinational companies. They receive got gained much nether this global trading system. Moreover, they are seeking farther marketplace access inwards developing countries, non entirely for merchandise inwards goods, but besides inwards services. Developed countries increasingly come upwardly up with novel rules or concepts to commit developing countries to farther opening upwardly their markets.
They tend to ignore the fact that they receive got a competitive payoff built on years of back upwardly from subsidies, tariffs together with other economical instruments. Basically, developed countries ‘over produce’ together with since their markets receive got move saturated; are constantly seeking novel avenues to extend these markets into developing countries.
Developing countries pay a heavy cost through project losses, a reject inwards the manufacturing industries together with productive sectors, every bit good every bit losing revenue to huge upper-case missive of the alphabet outflows.
Thus, the neoliberal policies of the WTO accelerate the procedure of premature de-industrialisation inwards developing countries together with the extremely high inequality that many of these countries experience.
But the WTO is at a turning point. There is increasing recognition its policies come upwardly with a huge cost tag for developing countries.
Moreover, it is widely acknowledged that rich countries, which receive got been the rule-makers at the WTO, are besides the rule-breakers. These governments move along to subsidize their agricultural sectors together with were quick to bail out their banks during the fiscal crisis.
The fright of protectionism is of major describe to the WTO mechanism inwards price of measures to address the economical crisis together with around developing countries, including South Africa, are calling for an assessment of stimulus packages, every bit they may live contravening the General Agreement of Trade inwards Service (GATS) rules.
This assessment seeks to create upwardly one’s hear whether disciplined measures should live considered together with is a tactical intervention, which could discover how the major powers are potentially contravening the really ain rules they were instrumental inwards creating.
But at that topographic point are other challenges related to the nature of the GATS rules, including the might of governments’ to regulate service policies. Thus, the assessment of the stimulus packages together with the extent to which merchandise inwards services are affected should live used every bit an chance for transformation, rather than an sweat to shell the major players at their ain game.
Many countries are besides bent on a “speedy together with successful conclusion of the Doha round.” This is despite the fact that Doha commitments, specially tariffs cuts, volition destroy developing countries’ industrial sectors every bit good every bit forestall the evolution of industrial policy.
Some members volition occupation this chance to telephone telephone for commitments for liberalization inwards unloose energy services to address climate change. But countries should desist whatever such discussion. Environmental goods together with services should non receive got been inwards the WTO inwards the start place. The environmental goods together with services sector (EGS) is notably alongside the most chop-chop growing industries inwards the earth together with access to novel markets is vital to developed countries. WTO disciplines inwards the unloose energy sector could cut the flexibility together with ‘policy space’ needed past times countries to brand an effective transition from a dependence on fossil fuels to cleaner together with to a greater extent than renewable unloose energy sources.
Many countries are even together with then looking at lastly Doha with short-term interests at stake. This, despite civil monastic say groups waving a carmine flag most impending dangers.
“If completed on electrical flow terms, the Doha Round volition aggravate the problems of our economies. It volition besides receive got away the really policy instruments needed (and existence applied) to address the electrical flow crises together with to forestall like crises inwards the future,” argued the Africa Trade Network, a network of African civil monastic say organizations inwards their argument of positions together with demands, at their preparatory coming together inwards Cape Town inwards the stitch to the WTO meeting.
Finally, concerning the institutional reform of the WTO. This is a necessary discussion, specially inwards price of shifting the residue of might every bit good every bit producing greater transparency inwards decision-making processes.
It volition live a missed chance if this coming together does non hash out a procedure for addressing the fundamental principles together with rules that hold the unbalanced nature together with inequities of this institution, which privileges developed countries together with their multinationals.
The earth needs a multilateral trading system, but i based on judge together with equity. It should besides live i which ensures that the interests of developing countries are met together with that evolution policy infinite is guaranteed, especially the economical incentives needed to shift our economies inwards favour of the productive sectors.