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Public Citizen | 2001 WTO Ministerial Qatar - 4th WTO Ministerial: Doha, Qatar

4th WTO Ministerial: Doha, Qatar

The 4th WTO Ministerial was held in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar from November 9-13, 2001.  The participation of civil society was severely restricted at the Ministerial (only one representative per accredited NGOs received visas to enter the country).  The choice of Qatar as the venue for the 2001 WTO Ministerial was by many seen as designed to avoid public scrutiny and protest of the WTO.

The Qatar WTO summit was conducted under rules that excluded smaller nations by having the negotiations proceed in exclusive "Green Room" committees, which presented their recommendations as a fait accompli to the entire WTO membership, similar to the handling of the failed talks in Seattle. The lack of access to the decision-making process for WTO members and minimal transparency created an atmosphere in which the U.S. and EU corporate agenda to expand WTO rules faced proud intransigence by the developing world, while the poor nations demands for WTO review and repair were dismissed.

As a result of the outrageous process, the Ministerial's outcome was modest: reaffirmation for on-going WTO talks on services and agriculture, agreement to start new talks on anti-dumping rules, an agreement to negotiate non-agriculture tariffs cuts, which includes a U.S. concession permitting non-reciprocal tariff cuts for developing nations, and a political statement supporting interpretation of WTO rules to allow poor countries to obtain access to patented medicines.

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