Civil Society Groups Slam G20 Agenda on WTO

Original Publication Date: 
21 June, 2012

Civil Society Groups Slam G20 Agenda on WTO In advance of the G20 meeting in Mexico this week, civil society groups working together in the Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network sent a letter to governments participating in the meetings urging them to reject discussing the further liberalization of trade in the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, at the G20 meetings in Mexico.

Unfortunately, the G20 governments did not heed the civil society call. Instead, they included a full five paragraphs on the WTO in the section on Trade in their Declaration.

It is extremely disappointing that the G20 chose to take up the issue of the WTO negotiations, given that, as the letter stated, “G20 does not have legitimacy to decide the future of global trade governance since only a forum which includes all members, regardless of their economic power, can legitimately make decisions on major issues pertaining to the future of WTO negotiations.” The WTO membership is composed of 155 countries, the vast majority of which are developing countries and are not members of the G20.

For the same reason, the OWINFS network is also extremely disappointed that the Declaration commits to continuing a contested discussion on “the relevance of regional and global value chains,” focusing on “trade facilitation,” and reaffirming the “standstill” on so-called protectionist measures taken in the wake of the last financial crisis, which are all issues important to corporations based in developed countries and not necessarily to developing and least developed country members.

Instead of these narrow corporate issues, civil society argued that any trade negotiations in the G20 should focus on “how the G20 can best ensure that a global economic recovery will ensure prosperity for all, including through trade and investment policies that prioritize decent job creation, food security, and global financial stability rather than just focusing on increasing trade and investment.”

Fortunately, the G20 has a history of failing to implement past commitments on issues such as Financial Regulation and Food Security. Thus, civil society expects that the G20 Declaration’s section on Trade – given that the G20 has no legitimacy as an institution to decide the fate of WTO negotiations, has no power of enforcement, and put forth the wrong agenda for the 21st Century – will be simply disregarded by the WTO membership.