Jan. 8, 2007

Saying There Is New Momentum for the WTO Doha Round Does Not Make It So

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Program

European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson’s spin does not change the realities that have halted the WTO Doha Round. First, World Bank studies have shown that the majority of World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries would be net losers if the Doha agenda ended up in an agreement, meaning most developing countries are not pushing for a deal. Second, the deadlock is ascribed to the U.S. and European agriculture trade positions. No evidence exists – in domestic politics or the economy – that the United States or the EU will change their positions. Third, regardless of what the United States and EU do on agriculture, numerous other major obstacles remain regarding industrial tariffs and the service sector, to say nothing of general dissatisfaction with the record of the WTO to date.

All of these Doha Round issues have stalled because a decade into the WTO experiment, the promised benefits have not accrued, and economic, environmental and social conditions have worsened for many in ways that are linked to the WTO’s requirements. “Trade” policy has increasingly become a decisive political issue, as in many Latin American nations (including Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela), which have recently elected leaders who favor economic policies that are alternatives to the corporate globalization model, as well as in the United States, where fair trade was a winning political issue in 30 House of Representatives races and seven Senate races in the November 2006 elections (see “Election 2006: No to Staying the Course on Trade” at www.tradewatch.org).

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