Breaking Out Of The WTO Box

Ever since poor nations walked out in protest at the World Trade
Organization talks in Cancun last September, the global trade body
has been hopelessly deadlocked. Brazil, Kenya, India, and others
have charged the WTO with unfairly forcing a system of trade rules
on developing countries that favors American and European
corporations, and doesn’t take into account the concerns of the
Third World, like agricultural dumping that puts small farmers out
of business. Civil society groups critical of the WTO now propose
scrapping it and using an alternative trade regulator that respects
workers and the environment: the United Nations.

‘Historically, UNCTAD [the UN Conference on Trade and
Development] has been the lead multilateral agency concerned with
Third World development, serving as host for various international
commodity agreements and, more generally, as a ‘think tank’ for the
South,’ reads a statement from the Minneapolis-based Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

Last month, IATP and other WTO critics issued a declaration in
preparation for the next UNCTAD meeting, which takes place in
Brazil in June. ‘Civil society campaigning for an end to
agricultural dumping and other fair trade policies are now
preparing for the UNCTAD XI meeting,’ the IATP statement continues,
‘with an emphasis on a new set of rules making agriculture an
engine of development.’ In S?o Paulo, there will be a Fair Trade
and Sustainable Development Symposium for UNCTAD delegates.
Leif Utne

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