Trade News — April/May 2006

 

Undemocratic WTO Mini-Ministerial Canceled as Developing Nations, Civil Society Protest

Dear Fair Trade Activist,

What if nothing less than the future of your job, whether your kids can hope for a good standard of living, whether your loved ones can access the medicines required for their survival, live in a peaceful world with a safe environment and healthy food, and even the fate of the basic human rights — from democratic decision-making to labor rights — were all up for grabs… and you were locked out of the room?

Sounds like an overwritten horror flick? Unfortunately, it's business as usual as the World Trade Organization. The goods news is that an attempt to ram through a deal to extend the WTO's poisonous, muscular tentacles into even more non-trade elements of our daily lives was narrowly foiled last week.

The plan was to 'overcome' opposition by a majority of the countries who are signatories to the WTO to a major powergrab called the "Doha Round" of WTO expansion talks by simply locking 100-plus countries out of the room. The WTO's Director General, Pascal Lamy, had called for an exclusive, invitation-only "Mini-Ministerial" meeting — to which only certain countries were invited — so the minority in favor of imposing the WTO's corporate rule could agree without interference of democratic process.

After African trade ministers filed an official protest — and a large bloc of other developing countries joined in — Public Citizen, and 124 other organizations from some 40 countries entered the fray as reinforcements — calling for the undemocratic gathering to be canceled. Read the civil society statement here. (PDF)

The wave of resistance to this undemocratic maneuver peaked, and in a great victory, Lamy was forced to cancel the Mini-Ministerial.

But unfortunately, the Doha Round itself was not cancelled — and that is where you come in!

Instead of fixing the massive problems demonstrated by the WTO's dismal 11 year record of eroding democracy, eviscerating environmental protections and pushing the race-to-the-bottom on wages and workers' rights around the globe, U.S. and EU government officials are seeking to expand the WTO's failed model in favor of the corporate interests they represent. Negotiations have been deadlocked because many countries have realized that the WTO model of corporate globalization will damage their economies.

With the forced cancellation of the Geneva Mini-Ministerial, we will be on the alert to ferret out whatever next tricks may be tried — and make sure you know what you can do to add your voice to those from around the world demanding: No New WTO "Round" — WTO TURNAROUND!

In the meantime, please spread the word about the WTO, by forwarding this email to your friends.

Thank you for all that you do,

Your friends at Global Trade Watch

Activist Spotlight

Sister Noemi Peregrino Gonzalez is a Catholic nun from Mexico who has spent years working with small farmers hurt by NAFTA, and watching them immigrate to the United States. Read her story and sign our petition on NAFTA expansion and Immigration.

 

Take Action!

Bush Pushes Peru "Free Trade" Deal Despite Heavy Opposition: With an Andean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) stalled because of human rights violations in Colombia and an uprising in Ecuador, the only country left for the Bush administration to add to NAFTA in the coming months is Peru.

Peruvians don't want the deal, voting overwhelmingly for change in recent elections. But at the urging of the Bush administration, the lame duck Peruvian President is going to try to push the U.S.-Peru FTA through the Peruvian Congress anyway.

This undemocratic NAFTA expansion has to be stopped — so we need to speak out now!

 

More Headlines from GTW

White House Shake-up Signals Pessimism on Trade Talks: In a surprise move, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman was reassigned to be the Bush administration's budget director. A New York Times editorial, "So Much for Those World Trade Talks," said that the shake-up may mean "the torpedoing of any real progress in these critical trade negotiations."

Let's hope so, but we're not resting until the current administration proposals for NAFTA expansion to Oman (PDF link) and Peru, and their knuckle-dragging proposals for the WTO, are formally abandoned or defeated in Congress.

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