Doha, November 10, 2001 – The opening day of the 4th WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha yesterday once again bore witness to the strong-arm and misleading negotiating tactics of the United States and the EU within the WTO. Delegations of developing and least developed countries that have continued to oppose the launch of a new comprehensive round of trade negotiations at Doha were the targets of private informal meetings with either the US or the EU delegations.

The US, however, will be negotiating with an empty hand. The Bush administration does not have “fast track” legislation from the US Congress delegating to it the authority to negotiate trade agreements with other countries. This means that whatever commitments relating to trade policy that the US might give to its trade partners in the course of any negotiations (both in this Ministerial Conference and afterwards) will not bind the US unless the Congress says so. More to the point, US legislators have specifically directed the Bush administration not to weaken US trade and agriculture laws by agreeing to the current language in the draft Ministerial Declaration that would require the US to negotiate changes in its anti-dumping laws and lessen the level of protection for US farmers.

The EU was no less duplicitous. During its private informal meeting with some African delegations yesterday, according to some African delegates who were present, the EU reportedly offered 50 million euros as aid in exchange for agreement from those present for the launch of a new comprehensive round. When asked whether it was an attempt to bribe African countries, Pascal Lamy allegedly merely smiled.

Alexandra Wandel of Friends of the Earth International said: “Hypocrisy was the order of the day at the start of the WTO Ministerial Conference here in Doha. Both the US and the EU continue to push forward their respective trade agendas in the WTO through empty promises and offers of money. This shows that negotiations in the WTO are done not on principles and the observance of rules, but rather through the use of duplicity and power. This leads to the continued marginalisation of many developing and least developed countries within the WTO. It also fails to address the concerns raised by poor countries and civil society regarding the pace, implementation, and social, economic, and environmental impacts of trade liberalization under the Uruguay Round.”

In Doha, contact:
Vice Yu
FOEI WTO Program Officer
+41 79 237 5626 (mobile)

Alexandra Wandel
Trade, Environment and Sustainability Coordinator FOE Europe
+539 2747 or 49 172 748 3953 (mobile)

Bertram Zagema
Milieudefensie/FOE Netherlands
+31 62 959 3877 (mobile)

Chowdhury KA News
Trade Campaigner FOE Bangladesh