02 August 2004
Progress at WTO, But a Long Way to Go
The WTO breakthrough was good news but made only incremental progress towards fair trade, Council of Trade Unions economist Peter Conway said today.
Peter Conway was a member of the New Zealand delegation to the WTO talks in Cancun last year.
“The framework agreement reached in Geneva on the Doha round shows that a multilateral approach is still achievable,” he said. “For small countries like New Zealand this approach is preferable to the bi-lateral negotiations developing with Thailand, Chile, Singapore and China.”
The agreement reached in Geneva on a process to eliminate export subsidies would benefit commodity exporters in many countries, including New Zealand, Peter Conway said.
“But this small success should not obscure the need to reform the whole WTO process,” he said. “The rules on international trade remain tilted against developing countries and issues of vital importance to workers such as core labour standards - which are not even included in the discussions.”
A recent report on “A Fair Globalisation” by the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation recommended a reform of the multilateral system to make it more transparent, democratic, participatory and accountable.
“The WTO has got a long way to go before it can show that it really is trying to champion fair trade.”