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Sydney WTO Protests - Lots Of Noise Little Cred

Media Release

15 November 2002

Sydney WTO Protests - Lots Of Noise But Little Credibility

If the force of the protesters arguments was as powerful as the level of noise they make then perhaps we could take them more seriously said Executive Director of the Trade Liberalisation Network, Suse Reynolds, today.

"According to the World Bank complete liberalisation of merchandise trade and the elimination of subsidies could add US$1.5 trillion to developing country incomes. Reshaping the global trading system and lowering barriers to trade could reduce the number of poor in developing countries by 300 million by 2015," Reynolds argued.

"What ideas do the protesters have that would bring about similar benefits?" she asked.

"The WTO is seeking to eliminate agricultural trade barriers. How would the protesters respond to a farming family in Africa who currently watch OECD countries pay out nearly US$1 billion a day to their farmers - four times all the development assistance going to poor nations?"

"If you shut down the WTO, who else do those yelling in Sydney's streets propose will have the resources, the clout and the political will to push for reforms that will literally put money in the pockets of so many of the world's poor?"

Finally Reynolds makes the point that just because the great economic powers want something that doesn't automatically make it wrong.

"The EU, US and Japan account for over 60% of the world's imports. Some observers are suggesting recession for all three. If that's the case, it will be the first time in 25 years all three will be in recession. That cuts jobs and revenue everywhere. Isn't this precisely the time when we should be doing all we can to ensure borders remain open and barriers to trade are minimised," Reynolds concluded.

For further information:

Brian Lynch, Chairman, 0274 452 958 Suse Reynolds, Executive Director, 021 490 974,

Lana Sheppard Executive Assistant NZ Trade Liberalisation Network Inc P O Box 26 Wellington lana.sheppard@tln.org.nz Tel: 04 9146320 Fax: 04 9146322 www.tln.org.nz

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