The Players

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.

Negotiating Blocs

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

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.

Corporate NGOs

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.

Progressive NGOs

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.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.