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1. News on the Process (Part 1)

From swans on Geneva lake to super-tankers on high seas! (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The General Council of the WTO agreed on 7 February, on an organizational framework for the launch and conduct in the concerned WTO bodies of the mandated negotiations in agriculture and services and the mandated reviews of the various Uruguay Round multilateral trade agreements. The Council also agreed that consultations are to continue on taking up and handling of the implementation issues. (8 Feb 00)

Agriculture and services negotiations in WTO bodies (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The General Council of the WTO agreed on 7 February that the mandated negotiations in agriculture and services, which technically began on 1 January 2000 according to the Marrakesh agreement, should take place in the respective bodies of the WTO dealing with these questions. (7 Feb 00)

Low key WTO discussions of post-Seattle outlook (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Trade ambassadors to the WTO, on 2nd February, sought to project a picture of the organization being back in business (after the Seattle debacle) and of members trying to discuss collectively and with goodwill the problems facing them, and particularly, that of developing countries. (3 Feb 00)

Rethinking liberalisation and reforming the WTO: Martin Khor's Presentation at Davos
Above is the text of the presentation made by Martin Khor, Director of Third World Network, on 28 January 2000 at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. The actual presentation, which was made at a panel on "Can we take open markets for granted?", was a short version of the full text reproduced above. (28 Jan 00)

Moore and 'team' hold informal consultations (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The post-Seattle situation and the issues confronting the WTO, after the collapse of the 3rd Ministerial meeting at Seattle, are expected to be discussed at an informal meeting of the WTO General Council on 2 February morning, but could continue through the week. The informal meetings are said to be a prelude to the formal session of the Council set for 7 February. (1Feb 00)

Seattle summary record has some material changes (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The secretariat of the World Trade Organization has now issued summary records of the Seattle Ministerial Meeting, including that of the opening on afternoon of 30 November and the end of that meeting on the night of 3 December 1999. (19 Jan 00)

Moore to visit Brussels and Washington (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Mr. Mike Moore, is visiting Brussels and Washington to discuss respectively with EC Commissioner Pascal Lamy and the US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, the post-Seattle situation facing the WTO. (14 Jan 00)

India proves WTO's best friend, after Seattle (R.D.Raj)
Post-Seattle, India is proving to be the World Trade Organisation's best friend and the first country that its Director-General Mike Moore chose to visit. (13 Jan 00)

Full participation and efficiency in negotiations (B.L.Das)
The current negotiating process has largely sidelined developing countries from the substantive negotiations that took place in the WTO. This article puts forth a possible new structure for negotiations that balances the need for efficiency with that for inclusive participation in deliberations at the trade body. (10 Jan 00)

Can system be back on rails? (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The World Trade Organization and trade diplomats returned to work this week after the holidays -- trying to figure out whether and how the system can be back on the rails. (10 Jan 00)

Uncertainty or "....on Earth peace and goodwill toward men"? (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
With the current holiday season in progress, the WTO and its secretariat, and trade diplomats and negotiators seem to have left behind for themselves and their capitals, an unparalleled state of uncertainty that may give them little peace of mind. Two areas of key interest to the industrial world, one related to subsidies, and the other, a "moratorium" on customs duties on e-commerce, are now in as similar a state of uncertainty as the problems of the developing world. (22 Dec 99)

Women's Caucus Declaration
The above is a Declaration by the Women's Caucus, which is comprised of women's organisations from the South and North, attending the Third Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Seattle.

Caribbean: What next after WTO "failure"? (Patrick Smikle)
Reactions in the Caribbean to the aborted Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle appeared to reflect a consensus that Caribbean nations stood to gain little and possibly lose much from WTO efforts to "liberalise" world trade. (22 Dec 99)

Confusion worse confounded (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The situation of confusion and extra-legality, if not illegality, in which the Seattle Ministerial Conference ended on 3 December night, appears to have been compounded by the decisions, and non-decisions, of the Special Session of the General Council on 17 December. (20 Dec 99)

Initiate reform of WTO, says G77 chairman (Martin Khor/TWN)
Developing countries must use the next few months wisely to put the World Trade Organisation on the road to review and reform, now that the stalled Seattle Conference has afforded them the opportunity to do so, according to the Chairman of the Group of 77. (19 Dec 99)

Convert development rhetoric into substance (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The legitimacy of the WTO, as of any international organization, depends on the universality of membership, participatory decision-making and fair sharing of the benefits of the system. In presenting this view at the Seattle Ministerial Conference, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Rubens Ricupero called on the WTO to give effect to efforts of developing countries to become full-fledged, and not shadow, members of the system. (17 Dec 99)

The messy WTO becomes messier (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The General Council of the World Trade Organization implicitly agreed on 17 December that the Seattle Ministerial Conference has ended, when the Council acted on the report of the working party on Jordan and accepted the protocol of accession and the schedule of commitments in goods and services. (17 Dec 99)

Human face to globalisation - a pipedream without WTO reform (S. Singh/SUNS)
As a chorus of leading voices from around the world calls for globalization with a human face, there appears to be a deafening silence on the part of those who currently benefit the most to more equitably distribute the spoils of the globalization process. (16 Dec 99)

Clearing up Seattle mess needs acknowledgement first (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Members of the WTO were holding several bilateral and plurilateral consultations and meetings among themselves on the Special Session of the General Council due to be held 17 December, on possible scenarios and actions and decisions. While many envisage a short technical meeting , several delegations noted that no clear picture is likely until perhaps just before the meeting.   (16 Dec 99)

Building up on Seattle, after stopping the steamroller (B.L.Das)
The developing countries were able to stop the steamroller at Seattle and thereby saving themselves from yet another set of iniquitous obligations and unfair WTO processes. The road after Seattle is more difficult for the developing countries, with various factors coming into play simultaneously. All this calls for continuing and strengthening the preparation of developing countries in Geneva and in capitals, with these countries, as well as the institutions and organisations assisting them working  in close harmony all the time. (15 Dec 99)

WTO getting into legal tangles and knots (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The 'rules-based' World Trade Organization appears to be getting into more and more legal tangles about the status of the 3rd Ministerial Conference and the end of the Seattle process, and involving a power tussle of sorts, among and between members and the WTO secretariat. (15 Dec 99)

Follow-up to a Ministerial meeting that never (formally) was? (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The Seattle meeting or process ended in 'confusion' at the Seattle Conference Centre on the midnight of 3 December. Clarification on what exactly happened or did not, and what documents, formal and informal, have been issued has been eluding everyone since then. Back in Geneva, a special session of the General Council has been set for 17 December, with one of the three items of the draft agenda being listed as: "Follow-up to the Seattle Ministerial Conference." (14 Dec 99)

Moore puts more spin on Seattle debacle (Someshwar Singh/SUNS)
The Director General of the WTO, Mike Moore, said here that he would start consultations to bridge consensus in remaining areas through an all-inclusive process. He said he was taking this initiative on the basis of the directive to this effect from the Chairperson of the Seattle Ministerial Conference, Mrs. Charlene Barshevsky. But at the Seattle meeting itself , several delegates had said that, to their knowledge, no decision had been taken on the process forward beyond Seattle. The full text of Moore's press statement is reproduced above.(8 Dec 99)

The revolt of developing nations (Martin Khor/TWN)
The Seattle WTO Ministerial Conference that was supposed to launch a new Round collapsed, with no new Round, no Seattle Declaration, or even a brief joint statement to thank the hosts or decide on the follow-up process. In the aftermath of its collapse, there will be many theories and analyses on what happened. Of the possible causes of the Seattle debacle, the more basic cause was the non-transparent and undemocratic nature of the WTO system, the blatant manipulation of that system by the major powers, and the refusal of many developing countries to continue to be on the receiving end. (6 Dec 99)

US, Moore rebuffed, WTO Ministerial ends in failure (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The 3rd Ministerial meeting of the WTO ended in shambles a little before midnight on 3 December, with the US and the WTO head, Mike Moore being handed down a severe rebuff, and the trading system facing the worst failure in its 51-year old history. No new round was launched, nor was there any agreement for one. Without a Declaration, all that delegates could take back to their capitals was a one-page final plenary statement of US Trade Representative and Chair of the Conference, Mrs. Charlene Barshefsky. (4 Dec 99)

A theatre of the absurd at Seattle (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The above report gives a rundown of the proceedings and events that took place at the Third WTO Ministerial Conference, from when delegates began arriving in Seattle, right up to the final plenary and closing speech by Conference Chair, Charlene Barshefsky. (5 Dec 99)

Closing remarks by Conference Chair, Mrs Charlene Barshefsky (TWN)
The following are the closing remarks made at the end of the Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, in the plenary on 3 December, by the Conference Chair, Mrs. Charlene Barshefsky. (5 Dec 99)

NEWS FROM SEATTLE (4 Dec 99) (Martin Khor/TWN)
The above is a summary of the proceedings that took place during the closing stages of the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle. (4 Dec 99)

No legitimacy or credibility in Seattle process and results - Third World Groups Denounce Undemocratic and Bullying Tactics at Seattle (TWN statement)
The Third World Network issued a statement and held a press conference in the Media Room at about 5 pm on 3 December 1999. The statement expressed outrage at the way developing countries were being treated, and called for the Seattle talks to be adjourned and that the General Council in Geneva be authorised to do follow up work instead.  The statement is reproduced above.(3 Dec 99)

Greens press reforms after trade talks collapse (Danielle Knight)
Environmentalists cheered the collapse of international trade negotiations aimed at a new round of talks on reducing tariffs worldwide and joined the overwhelming call for reform of the WTO. Echoing non-governmental organisation (NGO) concerns over the democratic process of the 135-member international body, developing nations charged that they were excluded from key meetings and beat back ambitious US trade plans. (4 Dec 99)

Developing countries assail WTO "Dictatorship" (Abid Aslam)
Anger by the developing countries over the secrecy of  the talks and lack of transparency came to a boil during round-the-clock negotiations on 2 December. Some poor countries launched a backlash against the major trading powers' dominance of the Seattle conference. The Third World delegates complained that they had been shut out of crucial sessions. (3 Dec 99)

US power play to force down its will (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
In this report on the informal meetings and consultations taking place on 2 December, it would appear that US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and WTO Director-General Mike Moore, seemed poised to change tactics and engage in a power-play to spring a draft declaration on the conference and force it through. (2 Dec 99)

GRULAC, Africans protest non-transparency, threaten walkout (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
WTO members from the Latin American and Caribbean region, and African members, in separate statements on 2 December, protested at the host country tactics and utter lack of transparency in the processes at the Ministerial meeting here and threatened to withhold consensus from any final outcome. The protests came on a day of increasing power play and secret manoeuvres by USTR and Chair of the Ministerial, Charlene Barshefsky and WTO DG, Mike Moore. (3 Dec 99)

Developing countries express disappointment over textiles (TWN)
In a statement to the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference, ministers from countries which are members of the International Textiles and Clothing Bureau (ITCB) have expressed "continued disappointment and concern about the manner in which the major developed countries have been implementing the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC)." (3 Dec 99)

WTO promoting more human tragedies like at Bhopal (Danielle Knight)
On the anniversary of one of the world's worst chemical disasters, the WTO is planning to dismantle health and safety regulations aimed at preventing such accidents, according to environmental activists. (3 Dec 99)

WTO urged to address access to medicine (Danielle Knight)
Public health advocates and consumer groups want the WTO to address the lack of access to life-saving medicines in the developing world. They warned delegates to the WTO's third ministerial conference here that unnecessary trade or patent barriers for essential medical products - which keep drug costs high in many developing countries -  has led to an increase of preventable illness and death. (2 Dec 99)

Clinton uses demonstrations to push labour standards (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
US President Bill Clinton used the street demonstrations and protests in Seattle against the WTO to push for trade-linked labour standards at the WTO. At an address to Trade Ministers, over a US government-hosted luncheon by the Chair of the 3rd Ministerial, Mrs. Charlene Barshefsky, Clinton urged the ministers to agree to a WTO working group on trade and labour standards. But judged by the conversations of the Ministers from developing countries, Mr. Clinton won no ground. (2 Dec 99)

Working groups hear views, decisions cooking up in 'green rooms'? (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The four working groups at the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference began their meetings and work, as evidence emerged of renewed manipulative processes towards a draft ministerial text that many delegations privately suspect has been drawn up by the WTO head and the US Chair. (2 Dec 99)

European Ministers oppose EC decision on biotech working group (Martin Khor/TWN)
A decision by the European Commission to agree to the US-led proposal to establish a new WTO working party on biotechnology has generated a storm of protests not only from environment and development NGOs but also from European Ministers of Environment. Environment Ministers from 15 European countries were reported to have voiced opposition. The EC proposal drew considerable anger from environment and development groups which saw it as an act of betrayal of the Biosafety Protocol as well as to the EU countries' commitment to environmental and safety measures regarding genetic engineering. (2 Dec 99)

Positions the same in investment, competition (Martin Khor/TWN)
Discussions on "new issues" started at the WTO Ministerial meeting, with countries reportedly sticking to their former positions on investment and competition policy. The discussions took place at the working group on "Singapore Agenda and Other Issues", chaired by the New Zealand minister. Several delegations called for negotiations on agreements for investment and competition policy to be launched at the Seattle meeting. But many other countries said the issues were not yet ripe for negotiations and that the further study of these issues should continue. (2 Dec 99)

Street protests, some violent, disrupt WTO Ministerial (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Tens of thousands of street protestors blocked the roads to "shut down the WTO", forcing the abandonment of the opening ceremonies and disrupting the 3rd Ministerial Conference of the WTO on 30 November. The conference eventually met later in the day, where it heard some ministerial statements and established five working groups to "negotiate" the text of a ministerial declaration. (1 Dec 99)

Developing nations reject labour issues in WTO (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Some key developing nations joined together at the plenary sessions of the WTO to reject efforts of the US and EU to bring the labour standards issue into the WTO. Brazil, India and Hong Kong-China were among those who spoke up clearly and firmly on this issue. (1 Dec 99)

Let UN agencies tackle labour and environment, says Annan (TWN)
In an address to the Third Ministerial meeting of the WTO on 30 November, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Kofi Annan said that labour and environment issues should not be used as pretexts for 'trade restrictions' and they were better dealt with by the specialized UN agencies promoting their cause. (1 Dec 99)

WTO negotiators fear Japanese 'torpedo' (Abid Aslam)
Japan has led a growing number of WTO members in insisting that the next round of trade negotiations include a review of anti-dumping laws, which have allowed the US government to slap punitive tariffs on imports it deemed to be sold at prices below the cost of production. US negotiators, on the other hand,  have balked at adding the anti-dumping issue to the agenda. (30 Nov 99)

"Seattle tea party" to protest against WTO (Danielle Knight)
Protestors took to the streets here, calling for a drastic overhaul of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The first official session of the Third Ministerial Conference of the WTO began amid protests from more than 500 non-governmental organisations, with the protestors arguing that WTO rulings had weakened environmental and health regulations. (30 Nov 99)

Militancy outside, defensive mood inside (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
As the 3rd Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization kicked off here, with an officially-organized pre-Conference event of an NGO symposium, the contrast between the mood of militancy outside and the defensive mood of promoters of the neo-liberal trade order inside the WTO was stark. (29 Nov 99)

NGOs unimpressed with "dialogue" and transparency attempt (Cecilia Oh/TWN)
The WTO's attempt to win over its civil society critics through organizing a symposium failed when the organizers came under fire for their choice of speakers and their failure to deal with the public's criticisms of the WTO. Among those who spoke during question time, Martin Khor of the Third World Network said that many of the NGO participants were upset and disappointed by the way in which the symposium had been conducted, with it being less of a dialogue and more of a lecture. Moreover, the Panel was not balanced, with key NGOs critical of the WTO, not being represented. (29 Nov 99)

Anti-WTO protests in Seattle (Danielle Knight)
Opponents of the WTO were off and running on 29 November, blaming the organisation for eroding environmental, labour, food and product safety standards along with human rights. Protests against the WTO's Third Ministerial Conference began with activists holding a series of rallies, teach-ins, marches and concerts to denounce trade liberalisation which they maintained concentrated power in corporations. Groups from as far away as India and Ethiopia participated in a sold-out forum, organised by the IFG, that questioned the type of corporate-led economic globalisation promoted by the WTO. (29 Nov 99)

UN Committee urges WTO review of impact on human rights (Someshwar Singh/SUNS)
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has urged member states of the WTO attending the Third Ministerial Conference at Seattle to ensure that the organization plays 'a positive and constructive role in relation to human rights.' In a statement adopted here in Geneva, the UN Committee says, trade liberalization does not necessarily create and lead to a favourable environment for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. (30 Nov 99)

Confusion is the 'trade order' at Seattle (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Less than 48 hours before the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference opens here, there is an air of confusion over Seattle - confusion not only over the substance of the meeting, but even more about the physical arrangements and facilities for delegates, the media and others. The EU made it clear that for the EC, "investment and competition policy" in the next round was a must, and in private meetings with key developing countries, it has made clear that unless it's demands for WTO rules on these two new issues are met, it will not agree to consider any developing country problems on implementation. (28 Nov 99)

Mass protests against the WTO at Geneva, Paris and New Delhi (Someshwar Singh/SUNS)
Mass protests were organised over the weekend in Geneva and many cities in France, including Paris, Lyon and Marseille, against the WTO and the millennium round of trade negotiations that it is expected to launch at its Ministerial meeting in Seattle. The demonstrations were organized by the 'Anti-Millennium Round Coordination' committee, which groups about 25 local and national organizations opposed to the politics of globalisation that is being promoted by the WTO. (29 Nov 99)

"Nothing new to propose by consensus for Seattle" (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
After nearly 15 months of preparations process, trade diplomats at the WTO abandoned their efforts to agree on a draft declaration and an "agenda" to launch negotiations at the 3rd Ministerial meeting of the WTO assembling at Seattle on 30 November. While agriculture and implementation are two key areas where differences among industrialized countries, and between them and developing countries remain too sharp and deep to arrive at a consensus, other demands of the industrialized world on each other and on developing countries too are responsible for the total deadlock. (24 Nov 99)

'Green room' will operate in Seattle too (Martin Khor/TWN)
When Ministers and officials converge in Seattle for the WTO Ministerial, they will most likely be facing a confusing array of meetings, including the so-called "green room" informal small-group meetings, in which most Members will be excluded but where much of the real negotiations may take place. This scenario emerged at a press briefing given by the WTO director-general Mike Moore and General Council chairman Ali Mchumo as well as from an informal briefing by US Amb. Rita Hayes. The official briefing by Moore and Mchumo was marked by sharp questions from journalists who wanted to know why the talks in Geneva failed to produce a text for Seattle with reasonable extent of agreement, and what procedures would be followed to transmit the Geneva documents and state of play to Seattle. (24 Nov 99)

Developing countries call for 'flexibility' by all WTO members (Someshwar Singh/SUNS)
With just a few days to go before the Seattle Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, the Informal Group of Developing Countries (IGDC) has called for "more flexibility' by all WTO Members to enable a solution to the existing divergences. In a press communique issued here, the IGDC cautions against portraying the current impasse as "a purely North-South conflict, as some have wanted to portray it." (24 Nov 99)

Impasse on any revised texts for Seattle (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
A meeting of the General Council of the World Trade Organization was put off , with delegations still to receive any revised draft text of a Ministerial Declaration to forward to Seattle. The only text on the table is the one put forward by the Chairman of the General Council on 19 October. According to information from some trade diplomats, no solution had emerged in the two areas of agriculture and implementation, to evolve some text, with or without square brackets. (23 Nov 99)

Packing bags, mental and physical, for Seattle (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Trade diplomats still meeting in small and big groups to negotiate a "draft ministerial declaration" for the 3rd Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization, are more busy packing their 'physical and mental, personal and official' baggage for Seattle than negotiating to find solutions. They have given up any hope of any agreed text for Seattle. (22 Nov 99)

US, EC labour rights proposals spurned in 'Green Room' (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Developing countries participating in the "green room" consultations appear to have turned down the separate US and EC proposals on trade and labour standards issues. Both approaches were earlier rejected by the developing countries in discussions at the informal heads of delegation meetings. Although they appear to have been brought up in 'green room' consultations, they were turned down by the developing countries. (19 Nov 99)

'Working papers' for Seattle? (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
The chairman of the General Council has circulated to the members, 21 pages of "working papers" on issues and subjects sought to be included in a Ministerial Declaration for Seattle. But the working papers do not contain anything on "implementation" questions or the mandate for "agriculture". The working papers appear on first reading to be texts prepared by the secretariat after the "green room" consultations held by the WTO Director-General Mike Moore since the last week of October, and to which many members (not invited to the 'green room') have protested in formal and informal meetings, and by a joint letter of several countries. (18 Nov 99)

Working papers show up continued yawning gaps (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Trade Ministers of developing countries going to Seattle may be well advised to announce on arrival that they are not there to negotiate all these details, and the 3rd Ministerial should meet and adjourn with a mere procedural resolution to send the texts back to Geneva without any further commitment.The new text, on everything except 'implementation' and 'agriculture', issued as 'working papers' by the Chairman of the General Council , shows that no negotiators can even understand the details, and if they agree to anything their countries will be in trouble. (18 Nov 99)

ILO head to go to Seattle, and 'make known' ILO views (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
Juan Somavia, the Director-General of the ILO, announced that he will lead an ILO delegation to the WTO meeting in Seattle, where he is an invited observer without right to speak at the Conference. But several of the developing countries do not favour it and have said that his speaking at the ILO would only help to provide justification for the WTO to take jurisdiction in these matters, even if Somavia argues against it at the Conference. (18 Nov 99)

 


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