WTO Turnaround: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Development First
December 16, 2011
As Ministers convene in Geneva for the 8th WTO Ministerial Meeting, it is clear that after many failed Ministerial meetings and nearly ten years of negotiations, the Doha Round of WTO expansion is at a crossroads.
Increasingly, developed countries have pushed aside agreements to negotiate on key developing country issues intended to correct the imbalances within the existing WTO, which formed the basis of the development mandate of Doha. Thus, the last Doha negotiations texts (December 2008) should not be used as the basis of any future negotiations. Even worse, rich-country governments appear to be re-packaging the old liberalization and market access demands of their corporate interests as so-called “21st century” issues, and pursuing plurilateral agreements among “coalitions of the willing” on the agenda of the 1%, with the ultimate goal of pressuring other countries to join later. The WTO process that led to the Chair’s “Elements for Political Guidance” was so unbalanced and exclusive that a group of developing countries has formally dissociated itself from the alleged “consensus.” Finally, the proposed Standstill (“Pledge Against Protectionism”) must be rejected outright as a grave threat to policy space.
At the same time, the emergence of the global financial, food, economic, and other crises – which the WTO’s privatization and liberalization rules contributed to, and failed to prevent – provides an opportunity to reflect on the serious problems endemic to the particular model of globalization that the WTO has consolidated globally. Thus, the Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network asserts that the global trade framework must work for the 99%: it must provide countries sufficient policy space to pursue a positive agenda for development and job-creation, and that trade rules must facilitate, rather than hinder, global efforts to ensure true food security, sustainable development, access to affordable healthcare and medicines, and global financial stability. In order to achieve these goals, this Ministerial should focus on fixing existing WTO policies, and transforming any future trade negotiations.