Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul15/07)
10 July 2015
Third World Network
MC10 must deliver on development, say CSOs
Published in SUNS #8059 dated 9 July 2015
Geneva, 8 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- Some 341 global civil society organisations
(CSOs) on Wednesday underlined that if the upcoming tenth ministerial
conference (MC10) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be held
in Nairobi, Kenya is to be a "success", it must deliver
on development and turn around the WTO.
In a letter sent to WTO members, the CSOs -- development advocates,
trade unionists, farmers' organisations, consumer and environmental
groups -- from over 100 countries said that the first WTO Ministerial
to be held in Africa will not be a "success" if it furthers
policies that are against the interests of African, Least Developed
Country, and other developing-country development.
Among the international organisations and networks that signed onto
the letter are the ACP Civil Society Forum, ActionAid International,
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), the Asia Pacific Research
Network (APRN), Asian Peasant Coalition, Development Alternatives
with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Friends of the Earth International,
Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), IBON International,
International Transport Workers' Federation, LDC Watch, Oxfam International,
Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), Public Services International
(PSI), Society for International Development (SID), and Third World
The letter was also signed by a host of national organisations and
In their letter to WTO Members, the groups said that global trade
policy must be evaluated by whether it contributes to global goals
such as food security and food sovereignty, sustainable development,
environmental conservation, financial stability, expanded access to
quality public services, the creation of good jobs, and the reduction
of poverty and inequality.
Now after 20 years of experience with the WTO and its corporate-led
model of globalization, it is clear that this particular model of
trade has failed workers, farmers, the poor, and the environment,
while facilitating the vast enrichment of a privileged few.
Since its mandate is to further liberalization and increase trade,
rather than ensuring that trade can be an engine of development and
the other goals stated above, it is the wrong institution for governing
the global trade system.
"Unfortunately, some members are seeking to further the failed
model and even expand it; thus it is urgent to reverse this direction.
The transformation of the system, starting with the amelioration of
the worst rules, must be prioritized," said the letter.
It is well known that most developing countries realized that the
conclusions of the Uruguay Round created a set of agreements in the
WTO that left them at a disadvantage in the global trade system.
Since that time, they have circulated proposals to ameliorate the
worst of those imbalances through what came to be known as the "Implementation
According to the letter, developing countries did not want a new round
of "market access" negotiations launched, which is a position
with which civil society concurs.
When developing countries agreed to launch a new round in 2001, it
was with the specific promise - and mandate - that the round would
focus on development issues, which included correcting the existing
problems and imbalances in the WTO, with a particular focus on improving
the extremely unbalanced agriculture rules.
Unfortunately, since then, some developed countries have insisted
again and again on relegating the development agenda to the background,
while insisting that their "market access" issues rise to
the top priority in the negotiations.
"Thus, nearly 14 years after the launch of the Doha Round, the
development issues which members agreed to prioritize still remain
unresolved within the WTO. At this time, this imbalance in the negotiations
can no longer remain status quo," said the letter.
The groups emphasised that negotiations to further liberalize "trade
in services" through the expansion of the General Agreement on
Trade in Services (GATS) must be immediately halted.
Strong public oversight over both public and private services is crucial
for democracy, public interest and development, as well as for the
orderly functioning of the services market.
The deregulation of the financial sector which was encouraged in part
through 1990s-era rules of GATS led to the recent global financial
crisis and the ensuing worldwide wave of recessions.
"In addition, we particularly oppose the inclusion of any public
services such as health care and insurance, water and energy provision,
postal distribution, education, public transportation, sanitation,
and others that must be operated as accessible, quality public services
in the public interest."
Before any further services negotiations are discussed, proper assessments
of the potential implications for consumers, workers, and the public
interest must be undertaken, particularly as they relate to the future
development of services for developing countries, said the groups.
For these and other reasons, the groups oppose the proposed Trade
in Services Agreement (TiSA) plurilateral and also the potential expansion
of GATS within the WTO.
For similar reasons, the groups oppose the continuation of negotiations
to further liberalize trade in goods through the Non-Agricultural
Market Access (NAMA) pillar.
In the negotiations, sectors are being targeted which are of particular
interest to developed country corporations, rather than with a focus
on export opportunities for developing countries.
"This would jeopardize job growth and the fomenting of industrial
development, particularly in developing countries," said the
The structural transformation that is required for many African countries
and LDCs to create jobs and alleviate poverty - key aspects of the
proposed Sustainable Development Goals - requires the protection of
infant industries, the promotion of added-value exports, technology
transfer, and other tools that were used by every developed country
on their path to development.
In addition, the global jobs crisis in which tens of millions of people
remain unemployed cannot be resolved with more liberalization of trade
The groups underlined that any future negotiations on trade in goods
- including those in the NAMA negotiations but also in the proposed
plurilaterals including the expansion of the Information Technology
Agreement (ITA-II) and the negotiations on Environmental Goods - must
focus on job creation and the Decent Work agenda developed by the
International Labour Organization working in conjunction with the
global labour movement, rather than on the narrow agenda of reducing
The groups said: "Expansion of the ITA, and the ITA itself, through
setting zero tariff targets for industrial products is contradictory
to the nature of policy space required to use tariff policy as a tool
to advance industrial development and structural transformation of
Any discussions in regard to non-agricultural market access should
focus on enabling the process of industrial development including
through reviewing and enhancing flexibilities available to developing
countries and through fulfilling the Special and Differential Treatment
principle, such as providing essential flexibilities under the Agreement
on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) that would allow developing
countries to use policy tools important for industrial development.
The groups are also strenuously opposed to the inclusion of any "new
issues" in a fundamentally flawed WTO that has yet to deal with
the foundational flaws of the existing rules.
"We also understand that there is a pernicious desire on behalf
of some developed members of the WTO, to set aside permanently the
entire development mandate of the Doha Round, and to replace it with
another agenda of issues that would further the profit interests of
The groups noted that these issues have been strongly rejected by
developing countries in the past, including investment, government
procurement, and transparency (the so-called "Singapore issues.").
They also include negotiations on e-commerce (which would expand corporate
dominance of Internet governance and erode digital privacy and other
digital rights); disciplining state-owned industries; and negotiations
on environmental goods and services (which simply appropriate the
positive connotations of the "environmental" moniker to
"While there are many aspects of the Doha Round to which we are
opposed, failing to fulfill the development aspects while replacing
that mandate with a new mandate that focuses solely on the wrong issues
is the opposite agenda of what needs to be prioritized in global trade."
The groups stressed that development must come before binding commitments
on Trade Facilitation. "We also understand that WTO members are
being pressured to file their ratifications of the Protocol of Implementation
for the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)."
The groups reiterated their general opposition to the TFA, particularly
because the TFA carries significant implications at each of the regulatory,
institutional, and legislative fronts, would require short-term and
recurring long-term costs, and is likely to increase imports in some
sectors while not contributing to building the productive and trade
capacities of countries.
"Thus, we continue to urge developing countries to delay ratification,
and to file only minimal Category A (binding) commitments."
The civil society letter noted that developing countries and Least
Developed Countries (LDCs) have instead made concrete proposals regarding
the development mandate, including implementation issues, strengthening
and operationalizing Special and Differential Treatment (SDT), agricultural
reform, and LDC issues.
It said that it is these issues which must be re-prioritized as the
agenda rather than discussing more "market access" for developed
Along with the SDT agenda, members must urgently begin negotiations
to change the current rules on trade in agriculture, and in particular
to address long-standing concerns about the existing trade-distorting
subsidies that developed countries agreed years ago to curtail or
"It is outrageous that developed, but not developing, countries
are allowed extensive levels of export subsidies as well as trade-distorting
domestic support, and these damaging subsidies on exported agricultural
exports must be urgently terminated; countries should not be permitted
in the WTO to damage each other's markets."
Likewise, if there are any future negotiations on market access in
agriculture, developing countries must be allowed to protect their
domestic production; they must have recourse to a full range of self-designated
Special Products and an effective and workable Special Safeguard Mechanism,
in the event that their markets experience damaging import surges.
On a parallel track, the groups urged members to immediately agree
to a permanent solution on food security, by allowing public stockholding
programs for resource-poor farmers to be allowed in the "Green
WTO members must move beyond the outrageous blockage by the United
States of the proposal to allow the developing countries to engage
in public stockholding programs to support impoverished agricultural
producers as well as ensure food security for their hungry populations.
"Members must urgently agree to remove this WTO obstacle to the
Right to Food."
In conclusion, the groups said that any future trade negotiations
must focus on the urgent development needs of countries for global
trade rules that facilitate rather than hinder development, including
the transformation of existing rules on agriculture (including a permanent
solution on food security), and the prioritization of Special and
Differential Treatment, implementation proposals, and the LDC proposals,
and must put aside the "market access" agenda of GATS and
NAMA expansion - as well as other developed country corporate agendas.