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Time to Put the WTO out of its Misery, says ARENA

Media Release
28 July 2004: For Immediate Release

Time to Put the WTO out of its Misery, says ARENA

As the crisis ridden World Trade Organisation lurches towards yet another failed deadline, it is time to stop the pretence that it has anything to do with genuine development, says Dr Jane Kelsey on behalf of the Action Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA).

“This week’s General Council meeting is D-Day for the Doha Round. Talks of a walkout are rife.

“The power-brokers behind the scenes seem to have been learned nothing from the failures of Seattle and Cancun.

“Every day their actions reinforce claims that the institution, with its pretence of a Doha Development Round, is morally bankrupt.”

Dr Kelsey points out that there was no mandate for the ‘framework’ proposals produced by chairs of various negotiating groups ‘in their personal capacities’ last week, including New Zealand’s Ambassador Tim Groser who Chairs the Agriculture Negotiations Committee.

Those proposals have been comprehensively condemned for providing solace to the rich and powerful and empty rhetoric to the world’s poorest countries who make up a majority of the WTO.

The US and EU have been offered concrete assurances that will allow them to continue their existing agricultural practices almost unhindered.

Critical issues for poorer countries of food security, dumping by the world’s biggest agribusinesses, protection of fragile industrial bases and the burden of implementing existing commitments have been put to the bottom of the agenda.

“Many governments are now saying they will walk away rather than agree to negotiate on terms that will leave them even worse off than they are now”, she observed.

“It is time the New Zealand government started telling people what is really going on in the WTO. This isn’t “do or die” for New Zealand. Privately the trade officials concede that very little would actually be achieved from the Doha Round.

“But it is a matter of life or death for hundreds of millions of people whose governments are being pressured to play Russian roulette with their most basic rights.

“Even if the WTO achieve some miraculous rescue remedy, it must be clear to everyone that the WTO is terminally ill”, she said. “The time has come to put it, and those whose lives it threatens to destroy, out of their misery.”

ENDS

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