Saturday, September 27, 2003

Failed Negotiations...

For the past 3 months or so, I have been monitoring the news regarding the updates on the 5th Ministerial Conference on the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Cancun, Mexico. The actual trade negotiations happened from September 10-14. All 148 nations were all accounted for.

The world trade conference in the Mexican tourist resort of Cancun was a failure.

The 5-day trade conference was concluded to a formal close without meeting any of the deadlines set at the launch of the Doha trade round. The event was somehow perceived to collapse since no consensus was reached regarding the expected controversial issue on agricultural subsidies. But surprisingly, it was not the controversy regarding the agricultural subsidies that brought the WTO ministerial conference to a big disappointment. Instead, the cause of the breakdown of the talks was the so-called
Singapore issues.

Foreign investment, competition policy, government procurement and trade facilitation comprise the “Singapore issues.”

During the WTO conference, a great number of the developing economies were against discussing the new issues since there were still unclear agreements on the pending WTO matters. These poor countries do not want to commit to a new set of international duties that are difficult to implement and monitor. But the developed economies such as the member countries of the EU, US and Japan were pushing for the inclusion of the Singapore issues in the talks.

How come the WTO is espousing free fair trade among economies when rich countries cannot commit a venue for equality for all? What really exists here is unequal, unfair trade. Supposedly, the WTO is bridging the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor, the developed and developing – what is being created is a disparity far from being remedied at all.

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It is always refreshing to know what is in your mind. Thanks!