Global Civil Society Oppose Convening Mini-Ministerial on WTO Subjects at WEF in Davos

Original Publication Date: 
22 January, 2014

January 22, 2014 

Dear Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), 

            As members of the Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) global civil society network, we are writing to strongly object to the convening of a “mini-Ministerial” meeting on the subject of the WTO at the World Economic Forum (WEF). Civil society is opposed to the WEF as a venue for discussions of the future of the world trading system because it is almost exclusively the Trade Ministers of the richest and most powerful countries who participate, along with representatives of the most powerful corporate interests. Any discussions on the future of the WTO at the WEF would be completely inappropriate, particularly in light of the recent Ministerial meeting of the WTO in Bali in December. In particular, we would reiterate our strong positions on certain aspects of the debate:


·         We call on WTO members to reject any inclusion of issues outside the development mandate of the Doha Development Agenda. Bringing in the other Singapore issues of investment, government procurement or competition in the post-Bali agenda, which have been repeatedly rejected by WTO members, would be wholly unacceptable. Further, we warn members to avoid the backdoor inclusion of such issues through the disguise of “global value chains,” or other so-called 21st century issues.


·         The December 2008 texts are an inappropriate starting point for future discussions. Those texts have veered far off the mark of a development-focused outcome, representing principally the market access wishes of multinational corporations, and should not be viewed as an acceptable launching point for discussions.


·         In fact, as negotiations begin in Geneva, we urge you to begin instead with a comprehensive approach to creating global trade rules that work for workers, farmers, public services, the environment, and sustainable development. The Implementation agenda and the Special and Differential Treatment proposals raised by developing countries for many years would be a good starting point. Likewise the Turnaround Agenda endorsed by hundreds of civil society organizations from across the globe, would be an appropriate starting point for a discussion of the needed transformation of the system of rules that govern global trade today. 

WTO Members whose Ministers will be represented at the WEF, as well as those whose Ministers will not be represented, must take seriously the opportunity to ensure that as delegates meet again in Geneva, their mandate is not derived from the wishes of a few heads of corporations and leaders in an exclusive and elite meeting in Davos. 


Our World Is Not for Sale network