Democracy and free trade prevail at WTO

Sunday, 14 September, 2003, Cancun – The decision by the G33 to walk out of the trade talks is perhaps the ultimate expression of this democratic organisation, where the rule of one member, one vote still holds true.

The talks broke down because the EU refused to reform its agricultural subsidies and attempted to foist new non-trade issues into the WTO - as a delaying tactic to avoid discussion of agriculture. But the days when a few thousand farmers in the EU are able to hold the world to ransom are over.

It is now essential that negotiations proceed on a more realistic set of issues. The Global Freedom to Trade Campaign believes that the world would be a freer, fairer, more peaceful and prosperous place if trade between people was free and not distorted by subsidies or regulations. Members of the campaign now urge the WTO to move forward with negotiation of the crucial issue of removing distortions to agriculture. The EU, US, Japan and other subsidy junkies must kick the habit.

Commenting on the outcome, Bibek Debroy of the Liberty Institute and the Rajiv Gandhi Institute (NGOs in New Delhi, India), said: "This is good news - an agreement without agricultural liberalisation would have been meaningless. But it is essential that negotiators come back to the table with the US and EU more prepared to remove distortions in agriculture. The costs of WTO talks failing are too high, and developing countries cannot afford such costs."

James Shikwati of Inter-Region Economic Network in Kenya, said: "This will force the rich countries to accept agricultural liberalisation. The talks must be restarted as soon as possible to open up the world for trade. The benefits of trade liberalisation would be felt by all."

Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation in South Africa, commented: "The breakdown in WTO talks must not become an excuse for countries to halt the process of trade liberalisation, which will benefit all, especially the poor."

Authors: Global Freedom to Trade Campaign - Members: Alternate Solutions Institute, Pakistan; Instituto Liberal, Brazil; Instituto para la Libertad y
el Análisis de Políticas; The Hayek Foundation, Russia; Association of Free
Consumers, Costa Rica; MOER, Bangladesh; CSRDESD, Mali; Jerusalem Institute
for Market Studies, Israel; Association for Liberal Thinking, Turkey;
Instituto Libertad y Desarollo, Colombia; Fulided, Bolivia; ILE, Peru; Inter
Region Economic Network, Nairobi, Kenya; Institute of Public Policy
Analysis, Nigeria - Free Market Foundation, South Africa; Fundacion
Libertad, Argentina; Liberty Institute, India, and others.

FMF Policy Bulletin/ 16 September 2003
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