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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2007 / World Trade, Davos, and the WSF

World Trade, Davos, and the WSF

January 24, 2007 - Instead of rushing into reviving world trade talks when they meet at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on 24 - 28 January, world leaders should listen to the voices from the seventh World Social Forum in Nairobi, warned Friends of the Earth International today.
0124

MEDIA ADVISORY

Friends of the Earth International

24 January 2007

World Trade, Davos, and the World Social Forum

NAIROBI (KENYA) / DAVOS (SWITZERLAND), January 24, 2007 - Instead of rushing into reviving world trade talks when they meet at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on 24 - 28 January, world leaders should listen to the voices from the seventh World Social Forum in Nairobi, warned Friends of the Earth International today.

On the opening day of the WEF in Davos, the 'public eye awards' for irresponsible corporate behaviour were conferred to Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis and US bridgestone corporation, for dramatically failing in their responsibilities regarding human rights, labour rights, or the environment. [1]

As world trade is once again a crucial topical subject in Davos, Friends of the Earth International called on world leaders to consider an alternative approach to the current trading system that is better for people and the planet.

Friends of the Earth Ghana Trade Campaigner George Awudi at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi said:

"The claim that the current trade system and trade negotiations are pro-development is ludicrous. All the evidence suggests that the current trade proposals would cause lasting damage to developing country economies and environment."

A key concern is that rushing the so-called Doha 'development' round of trade negotiations through by March will be used by rich countries to put pressure on developing countries to agree a deal that secures access to markets and cheap natural resources for transnational corporations at the expense of developing countries´ economies and the environment.

Tony Juniper, vice-chair of Friends of the Earth International in Davos for the 'public eye on Davos' said:

"Instead of using the World Economic Forum to revive world trade talks for corporate gain, the EU and the US should develop an alternative approach to trade, prioritising the needs of people and the planet. Any attempt to take Doha out of cold storage at Davos would constitute a major threat to the livelihoods, welfare and natural resources of communities worldwide."

Recent statements from the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, the European Commission's own impact assessment report and other studies [2] highlight that the current trade agenda is working against the needs of poor communities, many of whom depend on natural resources for their livelihoods.

However the proposals on the table will provide a real boost to the interests of business who will gain greater access to natural resources in the developing world - and easier access to markets worldwide. The proposals on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) would increase market access on non-agricultural goods such as forest and fish products that could have devastating impacts on these precious natural resources.

In agriculture, a schedule to end subsidies that causes dumping has not been set and a new agreement would open up agricultural sectors and limit the ability of developing countries to protect their farmers and agriculture. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Services (GATS) could impact on biodiversity and land rights of local communities through the extraction of fuels, minerals, timber and water. [3]

For more information

In Davos:

Tony Juniper, vice-chair of Friends of the Earth International, Tel: +44- 771284207
Sonja Ribi, Project Leader, Politics and International Affairs, Pro Natura (Friends of the Earth Switzerland). Tel: +41 (0)79 216 02 06

In Nairobi:

George Awudi, Friends of the Earth Ghana Trade Campaigner: Tel: +44-7967877593
Ronnie Hall, Friends of the Earth International Trade Campaigner: +44-7967017281 (or +254 (0)728 249 464 only until January 26)

Notes to editors

[1] The Berne Declaration and Pro Natura (Friends of the Earth Switzerland) conferred the public eye awards. For more information see http://www.publiceye.ch
http://www.evb.ch/cm_data/Bridgestone_e.pdf
http://www.evb.ch/cm_data/Novartis_e.pdf

[2] Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, "EU Sustainability Impact Assessment of Proposed WTO Negotiations: Final Report", July 2006 www.sia-trade.org/wto/FinalPhase/FINAL_OVERALL%20PROJECTJul06.pdf

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, "New focus needed for Doha Round: Trade talks failed to address developing country problems", August 2006 www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000375/index.html

K. Gallagher, Boston University and T. Wise, Tufts University, "Doha Round and Developing Countries: Will the Doha deal do more harm than good?", April 2006

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "Winners and Losers: Impact of the Doha Round on Developing Countries", Sandra Polaski, ;www.carnegieendowment.org/files/BWfinal.pdf

A study by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) from March 2006 concluded that the World Bank's strategies on trade have not delivered on employment and poverty reduction. www.worldbank.org/ieg/trade/docs/press_release_trade_evaluation.pdf

[3] European Commission-financed sustainability impact assessment on the forest sector. Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, "Sustainability Impact Assessment of Proposed WTO Negotiations: Final Report for the Forest Sector Study", June 2005
www.sia-trade.org/wto/final%20report%20page.shtml

Friends of the Earth International, " WTO: Hands off our Natural Environment ", November 2005

 

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