Following the original WTO Shrink or Sink statement (http://www.tradewatch.org/gattwto/ShrinkSink/shrinksinkhome.html) signed by many hundreds of groups and first issued in March 2000, there have been new developments in the WTO, such as the new push by the EU, Japan and other countries for new issues (investment. competition, government procurement etc) in a New Round, and the increased frustration of many developing countries due to continuing lack of interest by the developed countries to rectify the problems arising from many existing agreements.
There has also been increasing interest by groups that did not sign the original statement, to take part in improving the statement with their own ideas.
Due to this, some groups and individuals have attempted to revise, update and improve the original SOS statement to make it more relevant to the current situation and thus to articulate better the NGOs' and social movements' opposition to the New Round, and our views on what's wrong and what needs to be done. Hopefully the original signatories will now join in to sign the new SOS statement whilst new groups will also join in, so that we have a stronger articulation of civil society's current stand on the WTO.
Martin Khor, Third World Network, Malaysia
This new statement is titled "Our World is Not for Sale. WTO: Shrink or Sink" and can be found on www.canadians.org. All groups who signed the previous Shrink or Sink statement MUST sign the new statement again by following the instructions below. Soon there will also be versions in Spanish, French, Portugese and Arabic on the web-page (if you plan to translate the statement into other languages let us know so that we can post them on to the web as well).
You can sign the statement by visiting the web-site of the Council of Canadians (http://www.canadians.org/) and click on the "Our Wold is Not for Sale" logo. This is an organizational sign-on letter only. For general inquiries about the statement or for more information on how to sign, please contact Steve Staples at the Council of Canadians (email@example.com)
WTO: Shrink or Sink
It's time to stop corporate globalization and to fight for another world we know is possible. In November 1999, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Third Ministerial Meeting in Seattle collapsed in spectacular fashion, in the face of unprecedented protest from people and governments around the world. Since then around the world in rich and poor nations alike, millions of people have joined the fight for a just and sustainable future and against corporate globalization.
Despite the promises to improve the system made at the end of the Seattle ministerial aimed at countering the WTO's crisis of legitimacy, no improvements have taken place and instead things have gotten worse. The time is overdue to roll back the power and authority of the WTO. The democratic, transparency and accountability deficits in this institution, which supposedly promotes free trade, have in fact only contributed to the concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich few, growing inequality within and between nations, increasing poverty for the majority of the world's peoples, displacement of farmers and workers especially in third world countries, and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
The protestations of workers and farmers, human rights and environmental activists, religious and indigenous leaders worldwide and of third world governments regarding imbalances and problems in implementation of the GATT Uruguay Round Agreements are being swept aside. The WTO's allegedly neutral Secretariat, a group of mainly wealthy governments and the corporate lobbies are struggling to put the WTO back to business as usual - expanding corporate globalization. The built-in review negotiations of the WTO Agreements on Agriculture, Services and Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights have been steered away from review and repair, towards further ravage and ruin.
Governments are being bamboozled and blackmailed to accept a new round of WTO-expanding negotiations at the Fourth Ministerial Meeting to be held in Qatar on 9-13 November. Seductively nicknamed the "development round", the real agenda for a new round is to expand the scope of corporate access and privileges under the WTO regime to investment, government procurement, competition policy, and more.
Such further benefits to transnational corporations will further put at risk national and local economies; workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and other social groups; health and safety, the environment, and animal welfare. All this is taking place in the context of increasing global instability, the collapse of national economies, growing inequity both between and within nations and increasing environmental and social degradation, as a result of the acceleration of the process of corporate globalization.
The time has come to acknowledge the crises of the international trading system and its main administering institution, the WTO. It is time to stop the new round and turn trade around to serve the interest of all. We need to replace this old, unfair and oppressive trade system with a new, socially just and sustainable trading framework for the 21st Century.
We need to protect cultural, biological, economic and social diversity; introduce progressive policies to prioritize local economies and trade; secure internationally recognized economic, cultural, social and labor rights; and reclaim the sovereignty of peoples and national and sub national democratic decision making processes. In order to do this, we need new rules based on the principles of democratic control of resources, ecological sustainability, equity, cooperation and precaution.
In light of the above, we make the following demands of our governments:
No WTO ExpansionWe reiterate our opposition to continued attempts to launch a new round or expand the WTO by bringing in new issues such as investment, competition, government procurement, biotechnology or by accelerated tariff liberalization. Expanding the WTO into issues such as investment and competition policy or requiring all countries to adhere to WTO government procurement rules (starting with an initial phase of transparency rules), would threaten national self determination and the survival of small and medium sized local firms and farms, remove support for local economies, and cause immeasurable social and environmental damage. We also reject the new tactics of the European Union in particular to sneak in investment and competition negotiations by introducing them as plurilateral agreements. There must be a moratorium on further trade liberalization initiatives at the WTO. Instead, the issues of inequity - implementation issues - for developing countries must be urgently addressed. These should not be linked up in the context of further liberalization negotiations.
WTO Hands Off:Protect Basic Social Rights and environmental sustainability It is inappropriate and unacceptable for social rights and basic needs to be constrained or over-ridden by WTO rules. Protections critical to human or planetary welfare, such as food and water, basic social services, education, health and safety, environmental sustainability and animal well-being must not be undercut by commercial agreements. Inappropriate encroachment by trade rules in such areas has already resulted in citizen campaigns on genetically modified organisms, old growth forests, domestically prohibited goods and predatory tobacco marketing.
You can sign the statement by visiting the web-site of the Council of Canadians ( http://www.canadians.org/) and click on the "Our Wold is Not for Sale" logo. This is an organizational sign-on letter only. For general inquiries about the statement or for more information on how to sign, please contact Steve Staples at the Council of Canadians (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Margrete Strand Rangnes, Field Director Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, 215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington DC, 20003 USA, email@example.com & www.tradewatch.org, Ph: + 202-454-5106, Fax: + 202-547 7392