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USA and EU sink the WTO round in Cancun

USA and EU sink the WTO round in Cancun - Greenpeace call on governments to create a new trade system

15.00, 14th September 2003, Cancun, Mexico. The fifth WTO ministerial conference failed to reach an agreement today. This failure is the “expected” end of a trade system ruled by WTO with a single-minded objective of trade liberalisation. Greenpeace urges governments to rapidly convene an international conference with the mandate to provide the basis for the creation of a alternative trade system.

The WTO’s failure in Cancun to engage countries in more trade liberalisation confirms the commonly shared diagnosis of this organisation:

- Internal crisis of legitimacy: a permanent lack of transparency and democracy. For the first time however, a strong movement of resistance counterbalanced the usual arm-twisting from rich countries, with developing countries standing together as a block to refuse dumped trade and the expansion of a WTO mandate on new issues. Reinforcing the resistance, hundreds of non-government organisations denounced the US and EU push to coerce WTO members into ill-fated negotiations.

- External crisis: The WTO made the promotion of free trade for the gain of private interests the ultimate goal, over and above all other social, public and environmental objectives. The Cancun trade talks have clearly failed to improve significantly, and to take seriously, the need to give priority to sustainable development and environmental policy. Issues that are most important to poorer countries have continually been stalled, with no progress in negotiations.

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Greenpeace calls on governments to take the unique opportunity of the WTO crisis to create an alternative trade system. Greenpeace is in favour of a multilateral, rules-based system, but one that has sustainable development and social rights as the cornerstones. The global community must actively and effectively put an end to policies that promote the destruction of ecosystems and human wellbeing. Therefore, Greenpeace urges the global community:

- to conduct a thorough assessment of the rules governing the international trade system in order to re-orient this system towards achieving sustainable development.

- To convene an international conference with the mandate to set up the conditions and modalities for a safe trade system. Such a conference should take place in a neutral forum – preferably the UN, which is better placed to address social well-being, environment and economic development in a balanced fashion.

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