Monday's collapse of the Doha Round is the best outcome the WTO can deliver to the world's poor.
From the outset, the WTO's logic of trade liberalisation, did not meet the more complex needs of countries struggling to tailor domestic trade policy to the specific needs of their industries and agricultural producers. The institution, instead, became the playground for the major trading powers to capture markets for their corporations, paying no heed to the impact on Southern producers and industries, nor to the unemployment caused.
According to Walden Bello, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South
"The idea that the Doha Round was a "development round" could not have been farther from the truth. Whilst trade can be a medium for development, from the very start, the aim of the developed countries was to push for greater market openings from the developing countries while making minimal concessions on their part. Invoking development was simply a cynical ploy to make the process less unpalatable.
"The collapse of the Doha Round is good for the poor. With the unraveling of the WTO talks, the task should now be to shift to creating alternative frameworks and institutions other than the WTO and its neoliberal bilateral or regional counterparts, and to build trade mechanisms that would make trade truly beneficial for the poor."
Gathered here in Geneva are civil society movements from around the world. These groups have come to Geneva to register their protest against the Round. Speaking on behalf of the Fisherfolk Movement in the Philippines, Pablo Rosalez comments,
"We are happy that the talks have been suspended indefinitely, but we would be even happier if the suspension becomes permanent. The time for reflection should be used to think about development without the WTO".
Small farmers, represented by the international coalition Via Campesina, also here in full force, are equally upbeat. Says their spokesperson, Henry Saragih of Indonesia,
"We're celebrating this occasion. Today's outcome has also been the result of movements pressuring their governments in their capitals. We have worked hard in Indonesia, pressuring our government to stop agricultural imports which have pushed our farmers out of their jobs.
"Via Campensina has always called for the WTO to get out of agriculture. Now is the time for Food Sovereignty. The WTO should also get out of all sectors. We will continue to pressure the WTO to stop the negotiations completely."
Welcoming the latest developments, Joseph Purugganan of the Philippine-based "Stop the New Round Coalition" adds,
"It is time to think of a world beyond Doha, a world beyond the WTO, and start building and strengthening people's alternatives. We want an alternative system of global trade that protects livelihoods, promotes food sovereignty, secure jobs, and facilitates access to basic human needs such as water, education, healthcare and affordable medicines. This alternative system is anchored on cooperation and not competition, where people's welfare matter more than profits."
Civil society groups will celebrate the collapse of the Round in this week with the following events:
Wednesday 26 July, Bains des Paquis, 8pm
Concert Celebrating the Collapse of the Doha Round, Cultural night and Video showings. There will be musicians from the Philippines and Korean street theater.
Thursday 27 July, 45 Quai Wilson, 5pm
Fluvial Parade and Parallel Celebratory Demonstration to the WTO. Using the traditional Philippine boats constructed here in Geneva, the artisanal fisherfolk, together with a flotilla of yachts and other boats will sail towards the WTO from Palais Wilson. This will be a display of resistance to the WTO and a call for a permanent end to the Round.
Simultaneously, farmers and other activists will march from Palais Wilson to the WTO.
Fisherfolk Movement-Philippines/ Forum Social Lémanique/ Focus on the Global South/ ATTAC/ Marche Mondiale des Femmes/ La Via Campesina/ Uniterre/ Cadtm/ Coordination Paysanne Européenne/ Hemispheric Social Alliance/ Friends of the Earth International
CONTACTS IN GENEVA:
Olivier de Marcellus (FSL) 079 342 7025 [email protected]
Valentina Hemmeler (Uniterre La Via Campesina) 079 6721407
Mary Lou Malig / Walden Bello (Focus on the Global South) 078 839 7003
Joseph Purugganan, (Stop the New Round Coalition) 078 839 7003