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Thursday, December 8, 2016
CAFOD leaves for WTO summit to call for fairer trade
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¬†A team from CAFOD will be attending the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Cancun, Mexico from 10-14 September to lobby for trade justice. The CAFOD line-up is head of public policy George Gelber, trade analyst Duncan Green, head of campaigns Alison Marshal, special advisor Julian Filochowski, and press officer Patrick Nicholson. The agency is calling on the powerful members of the WTO such as the US, the EU, Japan and Canada to push through reforms to help the poorer members. In 2001, the WTO launched the Doha 'Development' round of trade negotiations, which were supposed to focus on the issues of developing countries. But CAFOD says progress has been stymied by lack of political will among developed countries, compounded by developing countries' difficulties in managing the sheer size and complexity of the agenda. George Gelber says: "Cancun is a make or break moment for the multilateral trading system. If the WTO, and in particular its most powerful members, notably the EU and US, fail to rise to the challenge, they risk consigning the organization to the geopolitical sidelines. If the trading system is to work, then the concerns of the poor must be put at its heart." CAFOD says promoting fairer trade rules in agriculture is a priority. Although 97 percent of farmers live in developing countries, they get a rough deal on agriculture at the WTO. Farmers in developed countries get £150bn each year in subsidies and breaks, which destroy the livelihoods of Third World farmers. CAFOD says the WTO must not take on any new issues. Despite the WTO agenda being overloaded, the EU and Japan want to expand it further with four new policy areas, the most contentious of which is investment. The agency says the negotiation of a WTO investment agreement would be damaging to the poor, as it would prevent them nurturing domestic industry, kicking away their ladder to development. CAFOD says the WTO must clean up its act. Campaigners wants to promote a more equal and transparent system of decision-making in the WTO, ensuring the full participation of all stakeholders, in particular the poorer and weaker ones. Too often, the decision making process has been opaque, favoured the powerful members, and been marred by arm-twisting of smaller countries.
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