‘Failure of WTO accord is no disaster’

30 July 2008

‘Failure of WTO accord is no disaster’

This week's failure of the negotiations over the World Trade Organisation's free trade agreement is no disaster, according to SP Member of Parliament and development spokesman Ewout Irrgang. “Developing countries were required to give up far too much, to the advantage of the rich countries," Irrgang said. "It is good that they stood their ground."

Irrgang was critical of the image that has been created of developing countries being, in contrast to the EU and US, prepared to make scarcely any concessions. He drew attention to the fact that the Doha trade round was supposed to be a development round, one which would have as its theme the opportunities and possibilities for poorer countries to pursue development through fair trade.

Ewout Irrgang“The western countries are attempting to achieve total free trade, but this isn't the same as fair trade. The US and EU could not accept that a number of developing countries wanted to protect their markets against a flood of agricultural products and to continue to develop their industries by protecting them from competition from developed countries, " said Irrgang, adding that "at the same time the US and EU were unwilling to drop their damaging agricultural subsidies significantly.”

The SP development spokesman also noted that if the western countries had been serious about making the Doha round a development round, they should not have been making demands on the developing countries to liberalise their service sectors. "Far-reaching liberalisation hinders the development of these countries' own service sectors and often also undermines the affordability of basic services in poor countries," Irrgang said. "We know all about the disastrous consequences of water privatisation in poor countries. Services should form absolutely no part of any WTO agreements."

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