[R-G] Anti-globalizers outraged by WTO plan
bstoller at utopia2000.org
Tue Oct 30 16:24:32 MST 2001
Reuters. 30 October 2001. Anti - Globalizers Voice Outrage Over WTO
GENEVA -- Anti-globalization groups voiced outrage on Tuesday at
proposals for talks on international trade barriers to be presented at a
key World Trade Organization conference in Qatar next week.
In a joint statement the groups -- which argue integration of the world
economy benefits multinational corporations but makes the poor poorer --
said the meeting, which is aimed at launching a new trade round, could
collapse if the project was not dropped.
Trade liberalization talks have been the focus of protests by a broad
range of non-governmental organizations and anti-establishment groups
since the last WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle in December 1999
failed to launch a trade round and collapsed amid violent riots.
If agreed, the round would aim to slash tariffs on industrial goods,
open WTO member countries' markets wider for services like banking,
tourism and telecommunications, and cut back farm subsidies in the
European Union and the United States.
New drafts of texts for declarations to be made by ministers at the end
of the November 9-13 gathering in Doha were "met with outrage by civil
society," declared the statement delivered to trade reporters in Geneva.
It said the drafts, drawn up by WTO General Council chairman and Hong
Kong ambassador Stuart Harbinson had been received with "disbelief and
frustration" by developing countries.
The draft "presumes a consensus on a future WTO agenda which does not
exist," the groups said.
"Non-governmental organizations from around the world call on their
governments to denounce this text as illegitimate and to oppose it being
moved forward for use at the Doha Ministerial," they said.
The groups included the U.S. group Public Citizen; Friends of the
Earth-International, based in Brussels; Via Campesina-International,
which links peasant groups; and Public Service International, grouping
civil servant bodies.
Developing countries are expected to criticize the Harbinson texts when
the WTO General Council meets on Wednesday.
EU officials are insisting a declaration must provide for talks aimed
eventually at linking environmental protection to trade rules -- a
stance rejected by most poorer countries.
Many groups in richer countries back developing country assertions that
linking environmental and labor standards to trade rules is a ploy by
the big powers -- mainly the United States and the EU -- to protect
their domestic producers against imports of goods produced more cheaply.
While anti-globalization protests have been joined by European farmers
who fear a loss of subsidies under any new WTO rules, many developing
country civil society groups back their governments' demands for an end
to such subsidies in the West.
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