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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2001 / 10_nov_wto

10_nov_wto

10 november 2001


doha friends of the earth international dubs wto 4th ministerial 'sale of the century'

As governments gather in Qatar for the WTO's 4th Ministerial, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) groups in Qatar and around the world [1] argue that bringing yet more controversial issues and sectors into the WTO [2] will cause the Qatar Ministerial to be remembered as the Sale of the Century.

If some governments, including the European Union, the United States and Japan, have their way, a huge range of new sectors will come under WTO rules, meaning rich pickings for Northern-based transnationals, but possibly little else for poorer countries and people, smaller companies and the environment. [3] On the table at present, for example, are energy and water service markets, tourism and lucrative government procurement contracts worldwide.

Friends of the Earth International representatives from the Belgium, Germany, Norway, the Philippines, Switzerland and the UK are in Doha to convince governments that now is not the time to continue with this 'business-as-usual' agenda.

In particular, Tony Juniper, vice-chair of FoEI said:
"If the EU and the US want to demonstrate a new spirit of internationalism they are going about it the wrong way. They could and should be using Doha to demonstrate that now is the time for a new approach to international relations and world trade, one that's fairer and more sustainable.'

Specifically, FoEI is calling on governments to:

  • Keep new issues out of the WTO.
  • Review the existing rules as agreed in the WTO's Uruguay Round of negotiations.
  • Phase out talks on liberalising agriculture and start talks on a new multilateral treaty in the UN, focussed on food security, safety, and sustainability.
  • Stop and review the GATS negotiations on liberalising services, ensuring that the extraction or collection of energy fuels, minerals and ore, water, timber, and other natural resources and any services related to nuclear energy are exclude from GATS disciplines.
  • Ensure the TRIPs Agreement on intellectual property rights does not restrict the right of governments and peoples to promote and protect essential public interests including health and the environment.
  • Prohibit the patenting of life forms.
  • Acknowledge that key mulitlateral treaties on the environment, development, health, labour and human rights take precedence over the WTO.


To see the full position FoEI paper ‘Sale of the Century: Towards a Sustainable Trading System’ go to http//:www.foei.org

Contacts :

In Doha:
Tony Juniper, +44-7712 843 207
Alexandra Wandel, +539 2747 or +49-172-748 39 53
Vice Yu, +41-79 2375 626
Bertram Zagema, +31-6-29593877

In London:
Ronnie Hall, +44 1243 602756, +44 7967 017281

In Montevideo:
Alberto Villareal: +598 52 28481, +598 520 2587

In Washington DC:
David Waskow: +1 202 783 7400

 

[1] Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is a worldwide federation of 68 independent national environmental groups, uniting close to 1 million activists worldwide.

[2] A combination of 'built-in' agenda negotiations to liberalise services, and the new issues being promoted by the European Union, which include investment, competition and government procurement, would mean a significant expansion of the coverage of WTO rules, yet there has been no comprehensive review of the last round of negotiations despite the fact that many developing countries are arguing that they did not receive expected benefits.

[3] A detailed analysis of the trading system is provided in FoEI's ‘Sale of the Century: Towards a Sustainable Trading System’ go to http//:www.foei.org

 

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