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ARENA WTO Booklet - Serving Whose Interests?

ARENA WTO Booklet - Serving Whose Interests?

How much of a mandate do anti-World Trade Organisation lobby groups really have to speak on behalf developing countries asks Suse Reynolds, Executive Director, of the Trade Liberalisation Network.

A recent survey carried out by the Pew Center in Washington questioned 38,000 people in 44 countries.

When asked about the effects of organisations like the WTO, World Bank and IMF, 72% of households in Sub-Saharan Africa believed they had a positive influence on their country. On the other hand less than a third thought that anti-globalisation protesters had a positive effect on their country.

"There is no compulsion to join the WTO and yet over 145 of the globe's more than 180 nations have chosen to become members. At least three quarters of the WTO's members are now developing countries. If ever they were going to be able to hold the feet of the developed nations to the fire for meaningful trade reform in their favour, they will do it in this trade round," said Reynolds.

"Furthermore, the WTO operates on the basis of consensus. Nothing is decided until everybody decides. Effectively any member can block an agreement they are not happy with."

Reynolds pointed out that in pushing hard for agricultural trade reform and improved access to European and North American markets New Zealand interests coincide precisely with those of developing countries where upwards of 70% of their employment is still in agriculture.

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