NGOs discuss trade crisis with WTO Chief

February 2nd, 2001

Yesterday nine of Australia's leading environment, development and social service non-government organisations (NGOs)* met with Mr Mike Moore, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to discuss concerns about the impacts of global trade on communities and the environment.

"While supporting a rules-based international trading system, the NGOs insisted that the WTO cannot continue to view trade in isolation from its environmental and social impacts. The WTO must not pursue trade liberalisation as an end in itself, leaving environmental and social values behind," said Mr Jim Redden, Policy Director, Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA), a spokesperson for the NGOs.

"NGOs were encouraged by Mr Moore's support for this view and his statement that governments must better integrate these issues in setting trade policy. NGOs welcomed Mr Moore's commitment to broader dialogue with civil society," Mr Redden said.

"Large and increasing numbers of citizens in rich and poor countries are demanding that the WTO and its member governments integrate economic, social and environmental policy to ensure equitable development and environmental protection. Broad public support for market liberalisation depends on real advances in addressing the needs of the poorest people and of a healthy environment," Mr Redden said.

"The Australian NGOs told Mike Moore that opposition to the WTO would increase unless the organisation becomes more transparent, accountable and democratic. Participation by developing countries and civil society must be encouraged in trade policy deliberations, not locked out. Mr Moore readily acknowledged a lack of policy coherence within many member governments," Mr Redden said.

"Mr Moore was also informed of the Australian government's own failure to properly engage with stakeholders on trade policy. Examples included the Howard government's refusal to allow any civil society representatives to join the Australian delegation to the 1999 WTO conference in Seattle, while allowing membership to eight business representatives," Mr Redden said.

*The nine NGOs are:

Australian Council For Overseas Aid (ACFOA), Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Community Aid Abroad Oxfam Australia (CAA), Friends of the Earth (FoE), Greenpeace, Humane Society International, World Vision, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)


For further information contact:

Friends of the Earth National Office
Ph: (03) 9419 8700