WTO: Developing Countries And Civil Society Groups Stunned By WTO Draft Declaration

October 30, 2001

WTO: Developing Countries And Civil Society Groups Stunned By WTO Draft Declaration?

Reaction in Geneva to the publication of the WTO's final draft declaration [1], to be negotiated at the 4th Ministerial in Doha, Qatar, 9-13 December, was muted yesterday - but only because developing country ambassadors and civil society groups were so shocked by its contents [2].

The supposedly neutral publication, drafted by Stuart Harbinson of Hong Kong, Chair of the WTO's General Council, effectively initiates negotiations on all the new issues - including competition, investment, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation - opposed by many developing countries and civil society groups since before the last Seattle Ministerial.

Combined with extremely weak language on all other developing country concerns (including agriculture, implementation, debt and technology transfer), nothing new on the environment and sustainability and the controversial reintroduction of the notorious green room procedures (used to exclude many delegates from negotiations) and the scene is undoubtedly set for Seattle Mark II.

Ronnie Hall of Friends of the Earth International said:

"In a show of breathtaking bravado, Harbinson has produced a 'clean text' intended to give an impression of consensus and simplicity. Nothing could be further from the truth. This text offers nothing on development, nothing on equity and nothing on the environment or sustainability. Anyone wondering about the real motives of the US and the EU would be well advised to watch developments in Doha: in the WTO it's still business-as-usual."

[1] This and other key WTO documents for the 4th Ministerial, published on or before 27 October 2001, can be found at www.wto.org.
[2] See Friends of the Earth International Statement on the WTO 4th Ministerial Revised Draft Conference Declaration, attached, which critiques the declaration's position on implementation and development, agriculture, services and the environment.

For further information contact:

FoE International

Ronnie Hall, International Coordinator, FoE International Trade Environment and Sustainability Programme (London)
Ph: +44 1243 602756,
Mob: +44 7967 017281

Vice Yu, WTO Program Officer, FoE International (Geneva)
Ph: 0011 41 22 7890724;
Mobile: 41 79 2375626
Email: yuvice@philonline.com

FoE Australia

Cam Walker,
National Liaison Officer, FoE Australia (Melbourne)
Ph: (03) 9 419 8700
Mob: 0419 338 047

Damian Sullivan
Trade Campaigner, FoE Australia (Melbourne)
Mob: 0421 874 838