On the WTO’s Round of Negotiations

The DOHA round explained on wikipedia, on WTO.org, on ICTSD.net for July 2008, and on Google news-search.

Published on ZNet.org, by Evo Morales, July 23, 2008.

International trade can play a major role in the promotion of economic development and the alleviation of poverty. We recognize the need for all our peoples to benefit from the increased opportunities and welfare gains that the multilateral trading system generates. The majority of WTO members are developing countries. We seek to place their needs and interests at the heart of the Work Programme adopted in this Declaration … (Doha World Trade Org. Ministerial Declaration, 10 pages, November 14, 2001).

With these words began the WTO round of negotiations seven years ago. In reality, are economic development, the alleviation of poverty, the needs of all our peoples, the increased opportunities for developing countries at the center of the current negotiations at the WTO?

First I must say that if it were so, all 153 member countries and in particular, the wide majority of developing countries should be the main actors in the WTO negotiations. But what we are seeing is that a handful of 35 countries are invited by the Director-General to informal meetings so that they advance significantly in the negotiations and prepare the agreements of this WTO “Development Round” …

… The respect and the peaceful and harmonic complementarity of the various cultures and economies is essential to save the planet, humanity and life.

For this to be in fact, a round of negotiations about development and anchored in the present and future of humanity and the planet it should:

  • Guarantee the participation of developing countries in all WTO meetings, thus ending exclusive meetings in the “green room”.[5]
  • Implement true asymmetric negotiations in favor of developing countries in which the developed countries make effective concessions.
  • Respect the interests of developing countries without limiting their capacity to define and implement national policies in agriculture, industry and services.
  • Effectively reduce the protectionist measures and subsidies of developed countries.[6]
  • Insure that the right of developing countries to protect their infant industries, for as long as necessary, in the same manner that industrialized countries did in the past.
  • Guarantee the right of developing countries to regulate and define their policies in the services sector, explicitly excluding basic services from the General Agreement on Trade in Services of the WTO.
  • Limit the monopolies of large corporations on intellectual property, foster the transfer of technology and prohibit the patenting of all forms of life.
  • Guarantee the countries’ food sovereignty, eliminating any limitation to the ability of the States to regulate food exports and imports.
  • Adopt measures that contribute to limit consumerism, the wasting of natural resources, the elimination of greenhouse gases and the creation of waste that harms Mother Earth.

In the 21st century, a “Development round” can no longer be about “free trade”, but it rather has to promote a kind of trade that contributes to the equilibrium between countries, regions and mother nature, establishing indicators that allow for an evaluation and correction of trade rules in terms of sustainable development.

We, the governments, have an enormous responsibility with our peoples. Agreements such as the ones in the WTO have to be widely known and debated by all citizens and not only by ministers, businessmen and “experts”. We, the peoples of the world, have to stop being passive victims of these negotiations and turn into main actors of our present and future … (full text).

Comments are closed.