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Unfair trade talks doomed to fail

30 July, 2004
Unfair trade talks doomed to fail

The Green Party says it is inevitable that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Geneva will break down again unless industrialised countries unconditionally end their export and domestic production subsidies.

"The latest Geneva manoeuvring show that the rich nations have learnt nothing from the mistakes of the past," Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald said today. "Back-room deals, closed-door negotiations and vested interest: the whole process would be dismissed as a very bad soap-opera plot, if it didn't impinge so heavily on the livelihoods of so many people.

"The WTO claims to be a 'rules-based organisation' that champions the principles of 'transparency, non-discrimination and procedural fairness' yet its lack of internal transparency, participation and democracy is appalling.

"The latest episode has seen five mega-agricultural producers (United States, the European Union, India, Brazil and Australia) meeting in their bunker, while everyone else is locked-out of the discussion - and the deal.

"While Tim Groser, the New Zealander who is chairing the self-appointed group, is more diplomatic than previous chairs this doesn't disguise the fact that the group has come up with a rules framework that is still slanted in favour of big, subsidised exporters and against developing countries.

"This ad hoc process also means the excluded WTO members will have just 24 hours to scrutinise whatever framework the 'famous five' finally cobble-together. It gives little opportunity for governments to assess the implications and absolutely no time at all for their citizens to debate the impact on their lives of the new rules.

"Why should developing countries risk their food security and the destruction of local industries by throwing open their domestic economies?" Mr Donald asked.

"Most industrialised countries built their economies on colonial exploitation and domestic protection. It is outrageous that those countries are now demanding that many of their former colonies sacrifice their domestic protection."


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