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Stop the WTO, that true market for fools

By Thomas Lemahieu; Translated by Henry Crapo

Translated Sunday 11 December 2005, by Henry Crapo

Stop the WTO, that true market for fools
Mobilization: Francis Wurtz, president of the group GUE-GVN in the European Parliament, and the alter-mondialist researcher Raoul-Marc Jennar, point out what is at stake in the Hong Kong meetings

After the heavy defeats in skirmishes in Seattle (1999) and Cancùn (2003), are we to predict, one week before the opening of the Hong Kong council of ministers of the World Trade Organization, a new blockage and embarrassment?

The European deputy Francis Wurtz is hoping for "a collapse of what is a veritable market for fools. When we look at the present cycle, which in Doha they dared baptize as ’development’, we are swimming in a deep lake of hypocrisy. Development is the least of concerns for the main protagonists in the negotiation: the United States, the European Union, and the group of Cairns (regrouping those countries that are large-scale exporters of agricultural products)" [such as South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Argentina. editor’s note]. In the meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of southern-hemisphere countries are the big losers in this cycle of liberalization. That’s why we are hoping for the failure of the negotiations in Hong Kong, and why we call for true negotiations, taking into account development, worldwide public property, the cultural exception, peasant agriculture, etc. We are proposing that the WTO be integrated into the United Nations. This would make it possible to give priority to fundamental rights, over the rules of international commerce."

The president of the European parliamentary group GUE-GVN, which will have a big delegation in Hong Kong, is also
proposing to dissipate "the fog purposefully spread around the question of agriculture in the public debate". "We should be very clear", he said, "that we are opposed to any subventions for agricultural products that would create competition with those in the poorest countries. At the same time, we should make no concessions to the voracious appetites of big agro-business in Europe. We must combat productivism and practices of dumping. We should support the concept of a European peasant agriculture, the right to cost-justified prices, alimentary sovereignty, and maintain respect for multi-functionality, social, environmental and territorial values in agriculture."

A well-versed observer of WTO negotiations, Raoul-Marc Jennar, sounds the warning bell, following alerts concerning medicines (reference to the "Tribune" in yesterday’s Humanité) in connection with the general agreement of commerce and services (AGCS). "For the first time in many years at the WTO, services are at the heart of the debate, and drafts of declarations begin to circulate. Almost half of the member states of the WTO are very hostile to what is proposed in the AFCS. The principal negotiators want to hurdle this opposition. They speak of "recalibrating" the negotiation to avoid the disastrous effect of a failure. If there is a compromise, it will be, as usual, at the expense of those most fragile."

Reference points:
— - 600,000 jobs lost from now to 2014 in the European branches of animal production, this is the upshot of the proposition made by the European commissioner Peter Mandelson concerning the decrease of access rights to the European market in Hong Kong.
— - The sectors for beef and lamb production can see a reduction of 20% in jobs, the pork sector 28%, and fowl 17.5%.

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