Bolivian President Evo Morales on the WTO’s Round

Published on, by Evo Morales Ayma, Presidente of Bolivia, 22 July 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 Organization Ministerial Declaration, 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” …

… Capitalism wants to make us all uniform so that we turn into mere consumers.  For the North there is only one development model, theirs.  The uniform models of economic development are accompanied by processes of generalized acculturation to impose on us one single culture, one single fashion, one single way of thinking and of seeing things.  To destroy a culture, to threaten the identity of a people, is the greatest damage that can be done to humanity.

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).

More articles on the subject

Reaction mixed after WTO talks collapse
, by Google News-search, July 29, 2008/13.00 h MEZ;

WTO and the hypocrisy of rich nations, by Op Rana, 25th July 08;

Trade talks’ failure ends Doha dreams, by David Loyn, July 29, 2008;

TRADE: Doha Round Crumbles to Dust, by Gustavo Capdevila, July 29, 2008;

Why a Doha breakdown wouldn’t spell disaster, by Paul Rayment, July 21, 2008;

The DOHA Timeline, by Angela Balakrishnan, July 30 2008;

World Trade Report 2008 (an an annual WTO publication);

the WTO’s Homepage;

The WTO on wikipedia;

And more about Bolivia: It’s All about the Gas Revenues, by Franz Chávez, 29 July 2008.

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