Several blocs of countries have formed in the negotiations leading up to the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong. Hundreds of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will be there too, both inside, lobbying the delegates, and outside, demonstrating in the streets.
The United States and the European Union -- The most powerful alliance in the WTO, generally seen as the bad guys because of their insistence on pushing a corporate-driven free trade agenda.
G20 -- A powerful negotiating bloc that emerged in Canc?n and was instrumental in halting the talks there. Led by Brazil, South Africa, India, and China -- and representing over half the world's population -- the G20 is focusing now on opening up rich countries' markets to food imports.
G33 -- A group of poor, food-importing countries concerned primarily with food security; many members overlap with G20.
G10 -- A group of 10 countries, led by Norway, concerned with protecting their 'food sovereignty' (the right to support domestic producers for domestic markets).
ABI -- Argentina, Brazil, and India jointly proposed the leading compromise deal on industrial tariff reductions, somewhat favoring developing countries. The African countries joined them.
If history repeats itself, a large majority of the registered NGOs in Hong Kong will be industry associations, such as the Florida Orange Growers and the National Association of Manufacturers, or conservative think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
In the mainstream media, WTO critics are broken down loosely into two camps: those who want to work with the organization to make trade more fair, and those who want to abolish the WTO entirely. That's oversimplifying the issue somewhat, since many of these groups work closely together. It's more a question of emphasis. The first group includes Oxfam International and Realizing Rights (headed by former United Nations human rights commissioner Mary Robinson). The second is led by the Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS) network, a coalition including the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Global Exchange, Third World Network, Public Citizen, the Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO (the main protest organizers), and dozens of other NGOs.