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Faltering WTO talks offer ray of hope

13/12/2005

Faltering WTO talks offer ray of hope

Concerned Christchurch people will show their opposition to the trade negotiations of the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong 13-18 December. Opponents of free trade and proponents of trade justice will rally in Cathedral Square at noon on Wednesday, 14th December.

"The recent lowering of expectations of trade negotiators at the WTO is good news for the millions of poor farmers and workers whose livelihood is threatened by the offers on the table and by current trade arrangements. There is a real hope that these trade talks will fall over * just like they did in Seattle and Cancun," says Leigh Cookson, spokesperson for GATT Watchdog, one of the rally organizers.

"Tens of thousands of people are gathering in Hong Kong to oppose the free trade agenda that has destroyed their lives. Not all New Zealanders are convinced by the outlandish claims around the Doha round of trade talks by the New Zealand government. While all the talk is of greater benefits for New Zealand agriculture, the results so far have been dismal and come at a high cost that we are not prepared to pay," she adds.

Media attention around the talks has focused on the level of agricultural subsidies provided for a few already rich farmers in Europe, the USA and Japan. The high cost largely borne by developing countries that have opened up their markets to inputs and reduced tariffs has led to a reduction in food security and greater dependence on aid. The rich countries continually fail to listen to developing countries demands for greater control over the production of vital food sources. Recent studies are beginning to show that economic growth has declined over the last decade and that countries would have been better not to liberalise trade.

"The only area of WTO talks with life in them are around the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The GATS negotiations are a direct attack on the world's people seeking to force countries especially poor countries to open up their basic services like water and electricity to powerful transnational corporations who have no interest in providing the necessities of life," Ms Cookson added.

The rally, Say No to WTO, is organized by Christchurch-based groups: GATT Watchdog, Arena, the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa and Christian World Service.

ENDS

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