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World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Meeting Set For Failure

November 1, 2001

The Canadian government and world leaders have been given an historic opportunity to meaningfully address the issues of security and development at the upcoming WTO meeting in Doha, Qatar. However, at a Press Conference today in Ottawa, representatives of Canadian civil society organizations opposing corporate-led globalization said it is an opportunity that is being squandered as all signs point to a new round of trade talks geared to benefit wealthy countries. If this agenda remains unchanged the WTO meeting in Doha will be a failure.

The world’s trading system has not delivered its promised outcomes to developing countries. Poverty is growing globally while wealthy countries capture the lion’s share of the gains from expanding world trade. The least developed and poorest countries have actually seen their share of world trade decrease by half over the past 20 years. These countries have been quite clear about what they want from the WTO: No New Round. This is a message that has fallen on deaf ears as Canada and other western countries are pushing for Doha to be the launching site of a new round of global trade talks.

Doha is being billed as the "development" round but according to Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians, "we're very disappointed with the draft ministerial declaration. Pettigrew's 'growth and development round' is so far shaping up to be about the growth of transnational corporations and the development of a global trading system catered to their needs."

"Development is the talk of Doha," says Gerry Barr, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, "and Doha presents a chance to begin to re-balance the global trade project and to re-identify it as a project of nations, rather than corporate actors, with a social purpose. And the centre of gravity for that re-balancing should be the use of trade as an instrument for global peace and the eradication of poverty."

The WTO is an institution in crisis – both because of major conflicts over the content of current trade agreements and because of core issues of legitimacy linked to the governance of the institution itself. "Issues of democracy, transparency, accessibility and relevance are priority issues for developing countries and civil society movements world wide," says Tony Clarke, Co-Chair of the Common Front on the World Trade Organization, " and although you won’t be seeing people in the streets of Doha as they were in Seattle and Genoa, the international call for fundamental changes to our trading system remains strong."

Gerry Barr, and Maude Barlow will both be going to Doha as accredited NGO observers.

For more information contact:

Katia Gianneschi
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
(613) 241-7007 ext. 311;

Jennifer Story
Council of Canadians
(613) 233-4487 ext. 234,


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