WTO July 2004 Package of Framework Agreements
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The World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries (most of the world) met again at the end of July 2004 to discuss more development and trade issues.
On this page:
- Why Another WTO Meeting?
- Drafts of Agreement Draws Predictable Criticism from Third World
- Final Agreement Reported In West As Success For Everyone. Who Is Everyone?
- Blame Game Again?
- Is another, fairer world possible?
- More Information
Why Another WTO Meeting?
Attempt to Continue from Previously Collapsed Talks
The previous major WTO meeting was in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003. However, those trade talks collapsed because:
- Richer countries wanted to talk about newer issues that mostly they themselves would have benefited from;
- Poorer countries wanted to finish older issues mostly on agriculture that affected them the most, especially the impact of European and U.S. subsidies on their own agriculture and lack of access to those markets.
- The continued non-transparent and non-democratic processes in decision-making and draft text writing, combined with procedure-abusing and
arm-twistingtactics by the powerful blocs such as the US and European Union (EU) has constantly meant that poorer countries are dealt with an unfair deal. This was no different for Cancun.
- For example, the powerful countries and blocks isolated groups of poorer countries to discuss aspects of the agreements (weakening poorer countries' ability to negotiate and discuss). In addition threats of things like withdrawal of much-needed aid would once again be used.
- However, for the first time developing countries made a somewhat successful and united stand against the powerful richer countries to represent their concerns.
For more details on what happened at Cancun, see for example, the following:
- This web site’s section on the Cancun WTO Meeting.
Divide and Rule: The EU and US response to developing country alliances at the WTO
1, ActionAid, July 2004. This report looks at what happened at Cancun and how since the collapse of the meeting, the EU and US have tried to split developing country alliances and force their own interests at the expense of poor countries using
intimidation at the WTO.
Attempt to Create a Package of Framework Agreements
After the deadlock, WTO members in Geneva tried to restart the talks. An agreement was reached to have a package of framework agreements by the end of July, 2004. The first draft of the
July package was circulated on 16 July. Negotiations started in the fortnight beginning 19 July.
Drafts of Agreement Draws Predictable Criticism from Third World
As with the previous trade meetings, the draft texts drew criticism from most of the third world. For example there was concern on many angles, including the following:
- The drafts fell short of some of the Doha mandates back in 2001;
- There was lack of progress on development issues yet again (despite being continually highlighted);
- Key issues for development were ignored and not even part of the first draft text, such as
- Trade, debt and finance;
- Trade and technology transfer
- and Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) in relation to public health
- Issues of interest to developing countries were not detailed out but other issues of interest to developed countries were detailed;
- There were concerns about the new
blue boxdomestic subsidies presented by the US, seen as a way to protect some of its own industries while also allowing more economic dumping, counter to global free trade principles;
- There was a low priority on issues of implementation (e.g. anti-dumping, investment (TRIMS), sanitary measures (SPS) and technical barriers to trade) because of the reluctance of developed countries to deal with them.
Some non-trade issues which richer countries had previously wanted to increase their market share were removed such as investment, competition, transparency in government procurement. Side NoteThese are important issues in their own right, but beyond scope of these trade meetings, requiring separate efforts. With richer countries adding these in, without everyone agreeing on all the outstanding existing issues raised criticism from the third world as as example of continued disregard to the third world, while only promoting their own agendas.
For more details at these concerns and criticisms, see the following as an example:
- Developing Countries' Initial Responses to Draft July Package2, by Martin Khor, Third World Network, July 2004. This article summarizes reactions from many member countries and regions.
- Widening divergences over July package3 by Chakravarthi Raghavan, Third World Network, July 26, 2004
- North tactics to split developing-country alliances exposed4, by Kanaga Raja, Third World Network, July 26, 2004
- D-Day for the WTO 5, by Walden Bello, Focus on the Global South, July 28, 2004
- US blocking trade deal at WTO6, Oxfam, July 28, 2004
- Oxfam condemns proposed trade deal for failing poor countries7, Oxfam, July 30, 2004
- WTO’s Empty Framework Allows Agricultural Dumping to Continue 8, Trade Observatory, July 30, 2004
- Doha Round: last-ditch effort to find agreement on package deal underway9, Bridges Weekly, International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development, Volume 8, Number 26, 21 July 2004
Blame Game Again?
Commenting on the final July 30 draft, Celine Charveriat, head of Oxfam International’s Geneva office added:
Recipe for Continued Poverty
It is almost like watching repeats of a show year after year, where you are now familiar with the series of events that will follow:
- The draft text, mostly written with rich countries interests in mind (such as the US and EU) will be criticized by the majority of the world because their concerns are ignored;
- The poor countries will start on a back foot, defending their concerns and wasting urgent time to discuss real development;
- Conversely, the rich countries will be on a stronger footing where they pressure the poorer countries to either trade off the issues in an unequal agreement, or accept/reject the proposed draft;
- The poor countries will not get what they need;
- The rich countries will get much of what they want;
- Where the developing countries try to take a stand, they will be criticized by the rich countries for de-railing the process, not being flexible, or cooperative, etc. This may get media attention;
- Reluctant agreements may be made. Richer country politicians may even call such meetings a success, and their media may even join in their celebrations.
- That once again it has been the rich countries de-railing the process, will be met with almost deafening silence.
Long time critic, Professor Walden Belo, presents a summary of a common view of the July 2004 Framework text:
International development organization, Oxfam, notes the position the pressures the third world have been facing leading up to this meeting, and will no doubt face after:
Further above, ActionAid’s report, Divide and Rule: The EU and US response to developing country alliances at the WTO 24, was mentioned. Commenting on EU and US bullying and arm-twisting tactics, Kanaga Raja reported a number of similar feelings, including the following:
Is another, fairer world possible?
The Institute for Economic Democracy26 has long detailed how we have moved from
plunder by raid to plunder by trade, and Raghavan’s comment above about colonial era economic relationships would tend to be a similar conclusion.
Cancun showed that if they tried, the developing countries might be able to tell the richer countries that they need to be fair and listen to their needs. The richer countries seem, in most part, to have come back with more of the same tactics.
The continued inequality risks continuing to feed more corruption and resentment of richer regions.
There are more calls in some circles to disband the WTO as a global institution to facilitate trade because of the political influences and non-democratic processes of the powerful countries. Yet alternatives would likely be met by resistance from those same powerful countries who benefit from the WTO processes. Without more cooperation and fairness from the first world, it therefore remains to be seen if things can really change or not.
- Third World Network27
- Oxfam on Trade Issues28
- WTO Observatory29
- Focus on the Global South30
- International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development31
- World Trade Organization32
- From this web site:
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- Global Issues: “Foreign Aid for Development Assistance”, Last updated: Sunday, September 28, 2014, http://www.globalissues.org/article/35/foreign-aid-development-assistance
- Global Issues: “Free Trade and Globalization”, Last updated: Sunday, March 24, 2013, http://www.globalissues.org/issue/38/free-trade-and-globalization
- Global Issues: “Corporations”, Last updated: Monday, January 07, 2013, http://www.globalissues.org/issue/50/corporations
- Global Issues: “Causes of Poverty”, Last updated: Sunday, September 28, 2014, http://www.globalissues.org/issue/2/causes-of-poverty
- Global Issues: “Sustainable Development”, Last updated: Sunday, September 28, 2014, http://www.globalissues.org/issue/367/sustainable-development
- Global Issues: “Third World Debt Undermines Development”, Last updated: Sunday, June 03, 2007, http://www.globalissues.org/issue/28/third-world-debt-undermines-development
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