CAFOD welcomes parliamentary report on the WTO

 CAFOD says members of the World Trade Organisation must take on board a report by the International Development Committee on the collapse of trade talks in Cancun last September. The IDC report, published today, criticises the EU for its trade policy processes and negotiating tactics that led to the collapse of the Cancun summit. The EU pushed for the inclusion of the Singapore Issues of investment, trade facilitation, government procurement and competition at Cancun against the wishes of the majority of WTO member states, especially among developing countries. An offer was made at the last minute to drop two of the new issues investment and competition. But the negotiating tactic backfired spectacularly, with the countries most opposed to the Singapore Issues refusing to budge. CAFOD says the lessons have not been learned from Cancun with the planned resumption of negotiations at WTO headquarters in Geneva looking increasing distant. CAFOD says the EU has virtually guaranteed that negotiations will not be picked up in Geneva by continuing to insist on all four new issues. The only insufficient concession is that these could be negotiated outside the overall agreement. This is opposed by developing countries because they fear that they will be forced to sign up anyway. CAFOD's Head of Public Policy George Gelber said: "The IDC report offers a stinging rebuke to the US and the EU for their role in the collapse of the Cancun summit. "The IDC report accurately describes what went wrong and what must happen next if WTO talks are to be salvaged. "As the IDC points out, the EU's stance on the Singapore Issues both before and after Cancun has been unacceptable and highly damaging. The WTO works by consensus, and the overwhelming consensus is against the Singapore Issues. "Trade talks at the WTO could lift millions out of poverty. At Cancun, development was sidelined by the poker game of trade-offs and last minute concessions that ultimately precipitated the collapse of the conference. The EU's intransigence on the Singapore Issues in particular is jeopardising the future of the negotiations. The EU's negotiating tactics are rightly condemned as obstructive and corrosive of the trust that must underlie negotiations. "CAFOD calls on the British government to work for a thorough overhaul of the EU,s decision-making structures. "With presidential elections due in the US in 11 months time, meaningful negotiations will be delayed for at least a year. When the EU returns to Geneva it must make a down payment to kick-start negotiations and ensure that development is really at the heart of the Doha Development Agenda. This must take the form of a better offer on agriculture. The thousands of Trade Justice supports who lobbied over 500 MPs in June demand nothing less."

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