HK Standard – Monday, October 17, 2005
Rocky start to WTO dialogue
Protesters swarmed WTO director- general Pascal Lamy’s car outside Hong Kong University Sunday in what could be a sign of things to come between
anti- globalization protesters and free-trade proponents.
Doug Crets and Kevin Rafferty
Protesters swarmed WTO director- general Pascal Lamy’s car outside Hong Kong University Sunday in what could be a sign of things to come between

anti- globalization protesters and free-trade proponents. The protest came during efforts to open a dialogue between World Trade Organization officials and non-governmental organizations.

Towards the close of the NGOs Roundtable Forum at the university’s Rayson Huang Theatre – meant to foster communication between dissenters and the WTO – protesters stood up with signs alleging government collusion with big business. They also demanded that industry chief John Tsang, who will chair the WTO negotiations in December, meet with NGOs.
Mung Siu-tat of the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on the WTO shouted in English and Cantonese demanding a meeting with Tsang.

"Mr Tsang, we have waited for over a year. We have written to you and you have ignored us," Mung declared.
Tsang responded that he would "consider it, but you are supposed to be civil society, so you must be civil. I will not negotiate under duress."
When the protesters refused to sit down, the meeting was brought to an end and Tsang and Lamy attempted to leave.
But protesters – as angry at Tsang as they are at the WTO – chanted "Shame to Tsang" as the pair headed for their waiting vehicles.
Tsang quickly left in a separate car, but Lamy was stalled for about 10 minutes outside the theater by peaceful and mostly good-natured demonstrators who swarmed around his vehicle holding bright posters calling for an end to the WTO.
Lamy reacted by getting out of the car and meeting the demonstrators. He said he would receive their petition. It actually took a few seconds before the lead demonstrator could come forward with his petition.
Lamy smiled and shook hands all round, accepting letters and protest notes.
Just before he got back into his car, he paused and asked if anyone else wanted to hand him a petition or protest. Then he smiled again and waved as university security guards helped part the crowd so he could drive off.
Tsang, who was the real target of the demonstrators, missed Lamy’s smooth performance.
The NGOs complained bitterly that they had been pleading for a year for a chance to meet Tsang and he had not responded.
WTO officials flew from Geneva on Saturday to attend the forum, organized by WTO officials and the government’s Trade and Industry Department, which is coordinating the sixth ministerial conference to be held from December 13-18.
The forum gave NGO representatives and the public a chance to speak their minds about the WTO and its effect on Asian economies.
The panel included: Chong Chan- yau, executive director of Oxfam Hong Kong; Elizabeth Tang, chairwoman of the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on WTO; Professor Richard Wong, deputy vice-chancellor and chair of economics at Hong Kong University; and Eden Woon, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.
For nearly two hours, anti-globalization representatives and government officials talked past each other on subjects ranging from lack of democracy in WTO talks to officials’ attempts to correct the perception that free trade is harmful.
In one exchange, a Filipino migrant worker charged that the WTO was partly to blame for Filipino peasants living in poverty.

WTO meet `make or break’ for trade
Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization,

warned in

two separate speeches in Hong Kong Sunday that the meeting in

the city in

mid-December would be the critical make-or-break few days for the


of world trade.

Kevin Rafferty
Monday, October 17, 2005

Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization,

warned in

two separate speeches in Hong Kong Sunday that the meeting in

the city in

mid-December would be the critical make-or-break few days for the


of world trade. If ministers leave Hong Kong without agreeing on at


two thirds of the agenda on critical issues like agriculture, industrial

tariff reduction and services, then the world can probably say

goodbye to

trade gains of hundreds of billions of dollars that the so-called Doha

Round is seeking to achieve. Lamy cited a figure of almost US$600


(HK$4.68 trillion) as the benefit from a reduction in tariff barriers by

just one third. In the afternoon Lamy, wearing jeans and a T-shirt,


three hours laying out his stall to several hundred representatives of

nongovernment organizations. In the evening, wearing a suit and

smart tie,

he spoke to a packed house at the Foreign Correspondents Club. He told

both audiences that the Hong Kong meeting is critical because the US

mandate for its trade promotion authority expires at the end of June 2007.

This means that the US president must send a Doha agreement to Congress in

early 2007. Working backwards, there is so much technical work to be done

in translating promises into binding agreements that unless the deals are

struck before or during the Hong Kong meeting, the Doha Round will be dead

in the water. Lamy was eloquent on the virtues of trade, but his words

fell on largely deaf ears. To Lamy, trade is the essential fuel for

development and prosperity. "Locally, the enhanced competition created by

trade stimulates innovation, keeps prices in check and can lead to the

creation of new jobs. "Globally, trade facilitates the more efficient

allocation of resources and increases overall welfare gains. The evidence

is overwhelming that nations which are open enjoy higher economic growth

and levels of development than those that are closed. And it is an

irrefutable truth that no poor nation has ever become rich without trade,"

he declared. If you seek a monument to trade, look around, Lamy added,

"From its somewhat humble origins as a fishing village and fortress, it

[Hong Kong] has emerged as one of the world’s great cities," thanks

largely to trade. "Incredibly," he noted, the gross domestic product of

Hong Kong – US$234.5 billion in 2004 – is exceeded by both gross exports

(US$268.1 billion) and gross imports (US$275.9 billion). To many of the

NGOs, the WTO is to blame for all the world’s ills, from hungry farmers to

the march of greedy multinational corporations. Elizabeth Tang ,

chairperson of the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on WTO, was on the panel

sitting next to Lamy and called for the abolition of the WTO. "The WTO in

its 10 years of existence, has done more damage than good to people in

both developed and developing countries. "Farmers are forced into suicide,

as many of them literally die of hunger from loss of land and livelihood

because of policies like the Agreement on Agriculture. Studies also reveal

that since China’s accession to the WTO, the average income for rural

households decreased by 1 percent and for those people in the poorest

bracket, it decreased 6 percent," Tang argued. Her position was supported

from the floor, including domestic helpers and construction workers from

the Philippines who claimed they had been forced abroad by trade policies

to work in wretched jobs in Hong Kong. Lamy protested that the WTO could

only help secure the potential gains from trade. It was not in the

business of distributing those gains, which was where governments came in,

since they possessed the votes in the WTO. Lamy noted that he had always

been prepared to meet with NGOs and admitted that "sometimes" he was

prepared to change his position because of good arguments by "some NGOs."

The deal for an agreement on export subsidies for agricultural products by

rich countries is on the table. If an overall deal is reached these

subsidies will be "e-lim-in-ated", said Lamy, pausing on each syllable to

make the point. He refused to give a percentage to chances of a Hong Kong

deal. He and John Tsang used flying metaphors. "Pascal is the pilot of the

plane," said Tsang. "We have offered to provide an intermediate landing

place on the way to its final destination." Lamy’s use of a flying

metaphor was to warn that no one should expect to get everything, but

small deals would not fly. "It’s like a plane, you need some speed to fly.

You can reduce speed, but there comes a zone where the speed is

insufficient to give you the lift you need and – BOOM – you fail." His

hope is that momentum is now gathering: "Last week in Zurich and Geneva we

saw real commitment on the part of ministers. We saw constructive

proposals and real numbers in the area of subsidy reduction and some

numbers of tariff cuts which should allow real negotiations to start. Not

everyone will agree with these proposals, but everyone agrees that they

are serious and constructive … I fly back tonight to prepare for

ministerial meetings this week which will hopefully bring us closer to

accord on market access improvements in agriculture which we need to

unlock the rest of the negotiations."


—- South China Morning

Post – Monday, October 17, 2005

Activists confront new WTO chief


Activists try to steal the limelight from Elizabeth Tang, Pascal Lamy,

John Tsang and moderator David Dowell (right to left). Picture by Dustin


Pascal Lamy, the WTO director-general, yesterday fielded questions from

anti-globalisation activists who contended that free trade does not

benefit the poor. Representatives from more than 30 non-governmental

organisations gathered at the University of Hong Kong for a forum with

officials from government and the World Trade Organisation. Among those

present were Indonesian domestic helpers, farmers from the mainland,

Filipinos and local union activists. "The WTO’s core business is not

distributing welfare. The WTO’s core business is creating wealth," Mr Lamy

said in response to accusations that the WTO had made life worse for the

poor. Mr Lamy, who left last night after a two-day visit, said that if

discussions went smoothly in the December WTO meetings in Hong Kong,

export subsidies provided by the United States and Europe to farmers would

be eliminated. Activists from the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on the WTO

staged four protests throughout the roundtable forum, which was held in

the lead-up of the WTO meetings in the city in December and attended by

148 trade ministers. After protesting before and during the meeting

activists blocked Mr Lamy’s car when he tried to leave. Elizabeth Tang

Yin-ngor, chairwoman of the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on the WTO, said

the protesters had not planned on blocking Mr Lamy’s car. She said Mr

Tsang had promised her he would receive letters from the activists, but

did not do so, which angered the activists. After he realised his car was

blocked in, Mr Lamy got out of the vehicle to receive the petitions from

the activists.