WTO Ministerial Fails to Make Progress, Again

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Anne Laure Constantin, in Geneva, 41 79 764 86 58, aconstantin@iatp.org
Ben Lilliston, in Minneapolis, 612-870-3416, ben@iatp.org

WTO Ministerial Fails to Make Progress, Again

Nearly decade-old agenda is outdated, time for a new start

GENEVA - Negotiations at the World Trade Organization are
intractably stalled as trade ministers find themselves stuck debating a Doha
Round that has long been outdated for the times. Instead, trade ministers need
to step back and chart a new course for trade, according to the Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy.

"This ministerial was so meaningless that many trade
ministers actually left before the meeting was over," said IATP's Anne Laure
Constantin in Geneva. "They continue to be mired in an endless Doha Round
discussion. Even at a time of unprecedented global crises, there is no appetite
for meaningful reform. The outcome of this conference is a weakened, not
strengthened, trading system stuck in an unacceptable status quo."

"The Doha Round is the wrong approach for the times," said
Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of IATP's international programs, in Washington.
"The Obama administration should have advanced bold new proposals to refocus
the global trade conversation on a different set of rules. Instead, USTR keeps
pressuring for more market access. This approach is leading nowhere. It is time
for USTR and Congress to get to work to design a trade policy that benefits
workers rather than shareholders. The introduction of the TRADE Act yesterday
in Congress was a good first step in that direction."

Constantin
added, "With 1 billion people going hungry every day, governments must build a
more coherent system of global governance for food and agriculture. The WTO
needs to rejoin the wider multilateral system and defer to other institutions
with the mandate to advance human rights and sustainable development, rather
than reducing them to an afterthought in the trade debate. World leaders should
take a fresh look at the Marrakesh Agreement, which established the WTO. It
sets overarching objectives to raise standards of living, promote sustainable
development and protect the environment. The obsession with tariffs and
subsidies, at the expense of public policy goals, needs to end."

 IATP has been reporting on the WTO since its
inception, and blogging regularly during this week's ministerial. More
information is available at IATP's Web page: www.tradeobservatory.org.

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The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.

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