Campaigners say first WTO deal in 20 years is a deal for corporations, not the poor

The World Development Movement has condemned the deal currently being discussed by delegates to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Bali as being “an agreement for transnational corporations not the world’s poor”. After hours of negotiation, the Director General of the WTO created a compromise deal which will go to WTO members for agreement in the coming hours.

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said:

On the positive side, developing countries have forced concessions onto the pro-corporate agenda of the US and European Union. However, those concessions are only the minimum necessary to get through what remains a deal for corporations, not for the world’s poor.

Here in Bali, social movements, trade unions and campaign groups have supported the efforts of developing countries to get a deal which moves the agenda away from a pro-corporate charter and towards something that asserts the rights and needs of the majority of the world’s population. The aggressive stance of the US and EU means that we have moved only a little, and shows again that the WTO can never be a forum for creating a just and equal global economic system.

Assuming this package is passed tonight, our attention must now move to the free trade offensive which will take place over the next year – the US-EU trade deal, the Trade in Services Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Taken together, these trade deals will represent the biggest shift of power from people to corporations that we have seen in 10 years. They must be halted in their tracks.

More detail on the Bali package:

On agriculture:

Nick Dearden said: “The compromises made allow a small exemption which might allow India to protect its programmes to improve food security, until a permanent agreement is reached. But this exemption is so tightly constructed it will make almost no difference to other countries. Ultimately, the dogma of free trade will continue to mean that corporate ‘rights’ trump the right of people to food.

The way this issue has been cast over the last week by the US and EU is a disgrace. No country should be demonised, as India has been, for trying to protect its people’s right to food. Rich country governments have clearly shown that global poverty is not on their priority list.”

With campaigners from around the world, the World Development Movement continues to campaign for food sovereignty.

Wheat (PD)On trade facilitation:

Nick Dearden said: “Developing countries made a valiant effort to moderate the trade facilitation package, for which the US and EU have pushed hard. But any promises which rich countries have made in terms of helping least developed countries implement this agreement will be small-scale and diverted from aid budgets. The package represents an expansion of the WTO, at a time when there is still unfinished business on the agenda which would be more beneficial to poor countries.”

On Least Developed Countries:

Nick Dearden said: “If the US and EU really wanted to tackle global poverty, they would have made the least developed countries package much stronger, as originally put forward in early negotiations, and promised to approve it regardless of what happened with the other packages. It is certainly positive that these countries have been given some preference, but this is a weak package and will make little difference. Moreover, it’s shocking that measures intended to benefit the world’s poorest people have been used as a bargaining chip in these negotiations.

On export competition and cotton:

Nick Dearden said: “The failure to deal with unfair protection on the part of rich countries really gives the lie to rich countries belief in ‘free trade’. These are very old issues that could massively benefit developing countries, but are held up again by the intransigence of the US and EU. It’s a case of ‘protection’ for rich country corporations, and free trade for the majority of people around the world.

The lack of progress on the trade embargo on Cuba further proves how shallow the US commitment to putting its principles into practice really is.”

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