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Thursday, March 23, 2017
UK: build up to WTO conference intensifies
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 As the fifth World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference edges closer anti-globalisation movements all around the world step up protest against free trade rules that exacerbate poverty. The meeting, to take place in Cancún, Mexico from 10-14 September, will launch a new round of negotiations on trade liberalisation, spearheaded by the rich and powerful minority among the 146 member states. Trade negotiations have stagnated since the 2001 WTO meeting in Doha, which despite being heralded as the development round, has produced few discernable benefits for developing countries. Previous rounds of negotiations have resulted in privatisation of national industries, weakening of state support for industry and promotion of export led production, with devastating effects on developing world. Critics of the current system, including the Catholic Institute for International Relations, believe that the next round of negotiations will do little to redress the imbalances in the global trading system, as the WTO continues to be dominated by countries which benefit most from free market economic policies. Despite their promises, the EU and the US do not show any signs of abolishing agricultural export subsidies, one of the crucial issues discussed at Doha. At the same time, they are encouraging the developing nations to open their markets. Subsidised US/EU farmers continue to dump their produce on developing country markets, rendering local farmers bankrupt. In Nicaragua, for example, 100 kilos of wheat costs US$9.32 to produce, while the price on the international market, due to high levels of subsidies in the US/EU, is only $five US dollars. Domestic producers unable to compete with the flood of subsidised foreign imports are driven further into debt and poverty. The patenting and control of seed production is also a concern of CIIR/ICD partner in Central America. The Trade Justice Movement, an international coalition of non- governmental organisations, including CIIR, is campaigning for changes in global trade policies that would benefit developing nations and the environment rather than the rich and powerful nations. Following the success of the recent 'Scale up for Trade Justice' event, in which over 500 MPs were lobbied across the country, the Trade Justice Movement have launched an action letter in the run up to the WTO ministerial in Cancún. CIIR encourages members to write to UK Secretary for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt MP, to voice concerns over the unfair nature of free trade regulations. Source: CIIR
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