WTO Update — Final Report


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.

News From the Home Front

Wal-Mart and the WTO: Public Citizen's report on the WTO's threats to local zoning laws, and their effects on "big box" stores like Wal-Mart, made a splash with coverage in the L.A. Times and CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, among others. Check out the report and write a letter to the editor to bring these issues to the forefront.

Local Action Highlight: Last week, Jobs with Justice, Grassroots Global Justice, and the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights organized a week of action to protest the WTO here in the U.S. One of the largest actions in the country was a 1,000+ person march on International Human Rights Day, December 10th in Portland, OR that was organized with the help of Porland Jobs with Justice and the Oregon Fair Trade Coalition. Check out reports and photos from the Portland march!

Your Letters to the Editor: Last week, in response to our e-mails, you wrote over 50 letters to the editor to your local papers. Thanks for keeping the WTO and its damaging model on the radar in your community!


The Hong Kong
Ministerial In the News

Some of the mainstream media stories on the WTO and Hong Kong:


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