Time to rethink the multilateral trading system, Doha aftermath

HON. PETER FAVILA
Secretary
Department of Trade and Industry

Cc: Pascal Lamy, WTO Director-General
Ambassador Falconer, Chair, Committee of Agriculture, Special Session;
Ambassador Stephenson, Chair, Negotiating group on Market Access

18 July 2007

Subject: Doha is dead, time to rethink the multilateral trading system

Dear Sec. Favila,

As civil society organizations and social movements committed to building a multilateral trade system that is just, sustainable and democratic, we believe that the time has come to officially declare the Doha Round of the WTO negotiations dead and to provide the necessary space to re-think the kind of multilateral trade rules that are needed to create employment and achieve sustainable development.

It is now almost six years since the Doha Agenda was launched in November 2001. What has followed since then is a litany of setbacks and/or failures — from the collapse of the Cancun Ministerial in 2003, followed by the July framework cobbled together in 2004, then the desperate moves of the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial to breathe new life into the Doha agenda, which led to the suspension of the WTO negotiations in 2006 and now the recent breakdown of the G-4 talks in Potsdam.

Doha was supposed to be the ?development? round. But what has transpired over the intervening six years has been quite the opposite. Instead of coming up with a set of multilateral trade rules designed to increase the capacities of developing countries to create new jobs, eliminate poverty and build sustainable economies, the Doha Agenda has been manipulated to primarily serve the interests of the northern industrialized powers to expand market access for their transnational corporations.

All the studies that have come out since 2005 —from the World Bank, UNCTAD, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Tuft University and the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) — demonstrate that the current proposals for the Doha Agenda make developing countries, and particularly the poorest countries, the biggest losers.

Millions of people all over the world, including farmers, fisherfolk, workers and trade unionists, environmentalists, faith-based groups and other civil society organizations, have been denouncing the Doha talks as promoting a “corporate-driven” model of trade that pays little attention to peoples’ rights and needs. Now, more than ever, world leaders must face up to the fact that the global trade regime has marginalized a vast array of communities and interests who have finally united to stop any further expansion of the system.

The Doha Agenda and Model have failed to increase the trust of WTO?s membership, let alone the public it is supposed to serve. Around the world, people have informed themselves and popular opinion has changed to the point where the WTO is suffocating from a crisis of legitimacy. And, no effort by free trade champions to ?better educate? the public or adopt ?quick fixes? can reverse this reality. Declaring the death of Doha does not mean the end of world trading system. Another multilateralism is possible, but not one that prioritizes the rights of corporations over the rights of people and the planet while reducing the power to self-govern.

We urge you to acknowledge the failure of the Doha Round now and call on you to institute a two year moratorium to provide the time and space necessary to re-think the model and process of global trade negotiations. It’s time to go back home, and start a process of reflection and consultation with your peoples that can pave the way for a new and different model of multilateral trade. The only credible option now is to stimulate public discussion and debate with governments and civil society and social movements about creating alternative trade regimes that are people, development, and environment centered.

Signed by:

ActionAid International
International
Advocacy and Monitoring Network on Sustainable Development (AM-Net)
Japan

AITEC
France
Alianza Social Continental
Regional
Alliance for Democracy
United States
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Philippines
Andhra pradesh vyavasay vruthidarula union
India
ASC – Caplo Peruano
Peru
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Hong Kong, SAR
AsiaDHRRA
Asia
Asian Farmers ‘ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)
Asia
Asian Indigenous Women’s Network
Asia
ATTAC
Argentina
Attac Austria
Austria
ATTAC HUNGARY
Hungary
ATTAC Japan
Japan
ATTAC Norway
Norway
ATTAC Sweden
Sweden
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)
Australia
Blue Planet Project
International
California Fair Trade Coalition
United States
Campagna riforma Banca Mondiale Italy
Italy
Campaign for the Welfare State
Norway
Campaign GENOA 2001
Greece
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Canada
Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Canada
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Canada
Caribbean Policy Development Center (CPDC)
Caribbean
Center for Encounter and active Non-Violence
Austria
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women ? Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Asia
Consumers Association of Penang
Malaysia
Convergencia de Movimientos de Pueblos de las Am?cas – COMPA
Regional
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
The Netherlands
Council of Canadians
Canada
Development Fund
Norway
Ecologistas en Acci

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