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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 December 10 - 16  > Postponing WTO ministerial meeting is proof of need to establish democratic rules
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2008 December 10 - 16 [ECONOMY]

Postponing WTO ministerial meeting is proof of need to establish democratic rules

December 14, 2008
World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy has announced his decision not to call a meeting of ministers to forge a Doha breakthrough. He cited a lack of political will among major powers to hammer out differences on key issues.

This shows that since the failure to reach agreement in the ministerial meeting in July, the WTO’s approach has reached an impasse.

There arose growing calls for a ministerial meeting to reach agreement by the end of the year, following the G-20 financial summit, which was held in the midst of the U.S.-triggered global financial crisis, and the summit meeting of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Touting free trade as a way to bring about prosperity to the world, the WTO has exclusively pursued opening the world’s markets. In effect, the “liberalization” policy that focused mainly on the interests of multinational corporations damaged the agriculture and other weak sectors and widened disparities between rich and poor in each country as well as internationally.

In the negotiation process, the United States has stood out with its intent to maintain agricultural subsidies at home, while demanding more market opening by importing countries for agricultural products. Japan’s policy was to give priority to expanding industrial exports and abandoning the domestic agricultural sector.

The need now is for the WTO to stop urging member countries to make a lot of concessions only to seek a hasty agreement. It is necessary to rethink how the WTO should operate and to establish democratic rules under which sovereign rights, public interests, and sustainable development of developing countries and other members are guaranteed.
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