WTO Papers Over Its Problems in Hong Kong
Dear Fair Trade Activist,
The World Trade Organization (WTO)'s Hong Kong Ministerial ended last Sunday, with negotiators avoiding a total collapse by papering over the key issues of contention and failing to address the serious problems underlying the WTO model. Below is an excerpt from GTW Director Lori Wallach's statement on the WTO's final Hong Kong text. You can read the full statement on our website.
Happy holidays, and thanks for all that you do!
The Global Trade Watch Team
Excerpt from Lori Wallach's December 19 statement on the final Hong Kong WTO Ministerial text:
Negotiators are attempting to characterize the Hong Kong summit as a success, but this mainly reveals the vulnerability of the WTO process, given that the most significant deliverable here was simply avoiding collapse of yet another WTO summit. Only one out of dozens of outstanding substantive negotiating issues was resolved.
Still, the Hong Kong text is really bad news for most people because instead of changing the existing WTO rules now causing serious damage, it continues WTO talks on a course in which the options range only between gruesome and horrible.
With 95% of the deep divides that have deadlocked talks until now simply papered over here, Geneva WTO negotiators will return to the same rut they left. Comparing the draft to the final Hong Kong text, vague language has replaced clear, if controversial, language in many places.
Time in Hong Kong would have been better spent working on alternatives to the WTO model rather than on how to cover up continuing disagreements with language tweaks. The question I have heard from delegates from many nations excluded from the invitation-only green room meetings is, when can trade talks get out of the rut in which they have been mired since Seattle, and actually turn toward different approaches that might deliver the promised gains in living standards?
Now all of civil society's eyes will turn to the WTO's Geneva headquarters, where those seeking to preserve the failed WTO status quo will undoubtedly try to use an array of additional undemocratic stunts to insulate negotiators from being held accountable by a majority of people who are living with the WTO's disastrous results.