International Civil Society Calls on WTO Members to Reject the Report of the “Expert Panel” of Outgoing Director General Lamy

Due date: 
14 Maggio, 2013
Delivery date: 
14 Maggio, 2013

 

May 2013

 Dear Members of the WTO,

            As members of the Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) civil society network, we are writing to strongly object to the report, “The Future of Trade: The Challenges of Convergence,” written by the Secretariat of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in consultation with the panel composed by the Director General, Pascal Lamy, both in terms of the process, and the content of the analysis and recommendations contained therein.

             Last June, we wrote to the Director General, noting the extreme imbalance in the composition of the panel, such as its exclusion of any representative from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), its inclusion of only one Latin American and only one African, its exclusion of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and its paucity of participation by civil society. These exclusions contrast highly with the panel’s inclusion of many representatives from developed countries, and eight representatives (of twelve total) coming from the corporate sector. In addition, we highlighted that since the WTO is, by statute, a member-driven organization, any initiatives regarding future negotiations should come from the membership. However, WTO Members did not decide to convene the panel; they did not choose panel members nor set terms of reference; nor review the report before it came out. Thus, as had been raised by WTO Members in the past, we found that panel and its work had no legitimacy, and we called on the Director General to dissolve the panel. That letter is included below.

  Now, having reviewed thoroughly the results of the panel’s work in terms of the report, we find ourselves shocked by the extreme imbalance in the analysis and the recommendations of the report (notwithstanding the good faith efforts of the International Trade Union Confederation to advocate for a more balanced outcome.) While the report claims the benefits of trade without citations, it does not acknowledge the ways that the particular model of corporate trade consolidated within WTO policies have contributed to global problems such as inequality and unemployment identified in the report, and does not allow that proper management of trade (including industrial and structural transformation and public policies) is necessary for sustainable and inclusive development.

In its analysis, the report states that trade is a means, not an end; presumably for developing countries, the goal is sustainable development. However the report advocates the convergence of trade regimes, not the convergence of levels of development. This contrasts with the commitment to Special and Differential Treatment (SDT), which forms part of the legal foundations of the WTO framework. In fact, given that the report advocates convergence of trade regimes – assuming to developed countries’ level of liberalization – based on fixed time specific goals rather than on actual levels of development, the report, appallingly, appears to recommend violating or amending current WTO rules on SDT including the flexibilities for LDC status, which is based on United Nations criteria.

In terms of the specific recommendations, even though the report alleges to be focused on the future of trade rather than immediate issues, it twice calls on governments to conclude a deal on Trade Facilitation (TF) – which is the current demand of developed countries – in advance of the upcoming 9th Ministerial meeting, without even mentioning the potential costs of a TF agreement, which would likely result in a surge of imports into many developing countries, negatively affecting exports and jobs. At the same time, the current demands by developing countries are not even mentioned in the report. These demands include:, for: changes to the existing agricultural rules (which allow developed countries to subsidize agriculture but prohibit the same subsidies by developing countries) to allow for Food Security, as proposed by the G33 group of 46 countries; the LDC proposals (such as Duty Free Quote Free market access, cotton subsidies, and particularly the extremely important extension of the waiver, without conditionalities, on the implementation of Trade Related Intellectual Property rules, or LDC TRIPS waiver); along with a fundamental re-taking up of the Implementation agenda issues; these issues are not even mentioned in the report. These would be the first steps of the immediate changes which are needed to be made towards the transformation of the global trading system, to address historical inequities between developed and developing countries, and asymmetries between the protections and benefits for corporations, and negative impacts on workers, farmers, sustainable development and the public interest generally.

             In addition, the recommendations beyond the current negotiations are completely unfounded on evidence of countries using trade for development. We vehemently oppose the report’s recommendation of the developed country proposals that were explicitly rejected by developing countries at the Cancún Ministerial of the WTO, particularly the Singapore issues of government procurement, competition policy and investment. Especially given that the number of investor-state cases against developing and also developed countries have skyrocketed in investment tribunals, according to the latest UNCTAD report, and that the breadth of environmental, public health and safety, and regulatory policies that have been attacked has expanded dramatically, it is wholly inappropriate to consider investment issues in the WTO. And we reject the proposal in the report to multilateralize regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).      

  As we mentioned in our previous letter, we are also extremely cognizant of the fact that a similar panel, the so-called Leutweiler report commissioned by then Director-General of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Arthur Dunkel, also lacked legitimacy, but was nevertheless utilized to crowd out a truly member-driven process with stakeholder participation, which would have led to a much more development-oriented result. This sorry process must not be repeated.

 Thus, we find that the report provides no basis whatsoever for any upcoming discussions in the WTO, in Geneva or at the Ministerial conference, or for any further work. Instead, we call on Members to work together identify the changes to the existing WTO and ongoing negotiations that are necessary to ensure that governments have the policy space to use trade for sustainable and inclusive development, such as those policy proposals contained in the Turnaround agenda of the OWINFS network.

 Sincerely,

 

 

International and Regional Networks 

1

Articulación Sudamericana Espacio Sin Fronteras (ESF), South America

Espaço Sem Fronteiras (ESF) é uma rede internacional formada por organizações sul-americanas que trabalham na promoção dos direitos humanos e defesa dos imigrantes,  lutando por sua integração e defendendo o direito de uma cidadania universal.

2

Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB)

Aims to uphold, protect and defend the rights and welfare of migrant and Local workers against exploitation and oppression. A founding member of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) and with members from Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand

3

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)

A regional migrant centre working in the Asia Pacific and Middle East region.

4

Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)

Represent more than 15 million rural members (e.g. landless peasants, peasant women, dalits, agricultural workers, fisherfolks, pastoralists, and rural youth) from 33 organizations from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, and Sri Lanka, struggling for genuine agrarian reform and  people's food sovereignty.

5

Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)

APRN is a network of leading research NGOs in the Asia-Pacific. It is active in promoting exchange, coordination and capacity building support in research.

6

Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC)

The Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) is a coalition of Caribbean non-governmental organizations.

7

Coalition Populaire pour la Souveraineté Alimentaire, Bureau pour l’Afrique (CPSA), Africa

The People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty is a growing network of various grassroots groups of small food producers particularly of peasant-farmer organizations and their support NGOs, working towards a People's Convention on Food Sovereignty. Its offices are located in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

8

Dignity International

An organization supporting partners worldwide in the frontline of the human rights struggle, to bring about lasting social change.

9

Focus on the Global South

Focus challenges neo-liberalism, militarism and corporate-driven globalisation while strengthening just and equitable alternatives and work in solidarity with the Global South.

10

Food & Water Europe

Food & Water Europe monitors the practices of multinational corporations that impact food and water and works with grassroots organizations around the world to create a genuinely economically and environmentally viable future.

11

International Women's Alliance (IWA)

Global alliance of anti-imperialist grassroots-based women’s organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and individuals committed to advancing national and social liberation.

12

Pax Romana-International Cultural Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (IMICA/MIIC)

Global network of Catholic leaders committed to justice, peace and creation.

13

Pacific Network on Globalisation

A pacific regional network promoting economic justice in globalisation

14

Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD), Americas

La PIDHDD es un actor político, conformado por Capítulos Nacionales que articulan organizaciones sociales e instituciones de la sociedad civil, que promueve la plena vigencia y realización de los derechos humanos; Actualmente, se cuenta con capítulos nacionales constituidos y en funcionamiento en 16 países del continente americano: Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Dominicana, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haití, Guatemala, México, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay y Venezuela.

15

Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI)

an African initiative to strengthen Africa's capacity to take a more effective part in the emerging global trading system and to better manage the process of Globalization.

16

Third World Network

Third World Network (TWN) is an international network of organisations and individuals. Its mission is to bring about a greater articulation of the needs and rights of peoples in the South, a fair distribution of world resources, and forms of development which are ecologically sustainable and fulfill human needs.

17

Transnational Institute

The Transnational Institute (TNI) of Policy Studies carries out radical informed analysis on critical global issues builds alliances with social movements develops proposals for a more sustainable, just and democratic world.

 

 

 National Organizations

1

11.11.11

Belgium

2

AIDS ACCESS Foundation

Thailand

3

Al-Jawf women Organization for Development

Yemen

4

Alliance Sud

Switzerland

5

All Nepal Peasants’ Federation

Nepal

6

Alternative Agricultural Network

Thailand

7

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)

Hong Kong SAR China

8

Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad

Colombia

9

Asociacion Nacional De Industriales De Transformacion, A. C. – ANIT

Mexico

10

Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (ATKI)

Hong Kong

11

Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (ATKI)

Indonesia

12

Attac Norway

Norway

13

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)

Australia

14

Banana Link

England

15

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)

Bangladesh

16

Berne Declaration

Switzerland

17

Bharatiya Krishak Samaj

India

18

Bhittai Welfare & Development Association

Pakistan

19

BiaŽlii, Asesoría e Investigación, A.C.

México

20

Campaign for Social & Economic Justice’ (CSEJ)

Jamaica

21

Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Canada

22

Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence

Austria

23

Central Unica de Trabajadores (CUT)

Colombia

24

Church and Society Programme of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia

Malawi

25

Comhlámh, Action and Education for Social Justice

Ireland

26

Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation

Canada

27

Congress of South African Trade Unions (OSATU)

South Africa

28

Collective for Research And Training On Development - Action (Crtd.A)

Lebanon

29

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

Belgium

30

Council of Canadians

Canada

31

Desde Hecho – Empresa Social

Argentina

32

Dharti Development Foundation

Pakistan

33

Dignity International

Netherlands

34

Drug Study Group

Thailand

35

Drug System Monitoring and Development Program

Thailand

36

Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH)

Thailand

37

Econews Africa

Kenya

38

Ecuador Decide

Ecuador

39

Equity and Justice Working Group

Bangladesh

40

Fairwatch,

Italy

41

Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (FOCO)

Argentina

42

Foundation for AIDS Rights

Thailand

43

Foundation for Consumers

Thailand

44

FTA Watch

Thailand

45

Global Compliance Research Project

Canada

46

Globalization Watch Hiroshima

 Japan

47

Golias Magazine

Belgium

48

Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA)

Haiti

49

Hawkers Joint Action Committee

India

50

Health and Development Foundation

Thailand

51

Health Consumers Protection Program

Thailand

52

IBON International

Philippines

53

India FDI Watch

India

54

Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU)

Indonesia

55

Indonesian People’s Alliance

Indonesia

56

Informationsgruppe Lateinamerika (IGLA)

Austria

57

Institute for Global Justice (IGJ)

Indonesia

58

Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES)

Indonesia

59

International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the Presentation

USA

60

Janpahal

India

61

Kenya Debt Relief Network (Kendren)

Kenya

62

Kilusang Magbubukid Ng Pilipinas (KMP)

Philippines

63

Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre

Nigeria

64

League of Indonesian Migrant Workers (LIPMI)

Indonesia

65

Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste, AC

Mexico

66

National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO)

Sri Lanka

67

National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS)

Nigeria

68

National Union of Public and General Employees

Canada

69

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions - Te Kauae Kaimahi

New Zealand

70

Norwegian Trade Campaign / Handelskampanjen

Norway

71

Presentation Justice Network

Ireland

72

Presentation Sisters

New Zealand

73

Presentation Sisters of Newfoundland and Labrador

Canada

74

Public Citizen

USA

75

Red de Acción Ciudadana Frente al Libre Comercio e Inversión, Sinti Techan,

El Salvador

76

Red de Información y Acción por el Derecho Humano a Alimentarse

Mexico

77

Resistance and Alternatives to Globalization (RAG)

Indonesia

78

Rice Watch and Action Network

Philippines

79

Rural Doctor Society

Thailand

80

Rural Pharmacists Foundation

Thailand

81

Rwanda Civil Society Platform (RCSP)

Rwanda

82

Save the Earth

Cambodia

83

Sindhica Women Empowerment Organization

Pakistan

84

Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fargo

USA

85

Social Pharmacy Research Unit, Chulalongkorn University

Thailand

86

Solidarité

France

87

The African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Child Abuse and Neglect (Anppcan) - Malawi Chapter

Malawi

88

Thai Holistic Health Foundation

Thailand

89

Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS

Thailand

90

The Centre for Research and Advocacy

India

91

The Council of Canadians

Canada

92

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights

Egypt

93

The Presentation Sisters Lismore

Australia

94

The SEARCH Foundation

Australia

95

The Thai Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+)

Thailand

96

The Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice

Ireland

97

The Working for Empowerment and Good Governance (WeGovern) Institute

Philippines

98

The World Development Movement

 UK

99

Unión Popular Valle Gómez, A. C, Mexico

Mexico

100

United Indonesians Against Overcharging (PILAR)

Hong Kong

101

Vision Spring Initiatives

Nigeria

102

War on Want

England

 June 25, 2012

Dear Pascal Lamy,

            We are writing to strongly object to the recently formed “WTO Panel on Defining the Future of Trade.” This panel, more than half of which is composed by representatives of the business sector, does not have the global legitimacy of the stakeholders – those who will be impacted by the future of trade negotiations within the WTO – to be able to propose a legitimate path forward for future WTO negotiations.

             First, we find the composition of the panel to be extremely biased in favor of the corporate sector, with inadequate representation of civil society. One NGO, particularly one of the characteristics of CUTS, would not be able to provide a full perspective of the views of NGOs, including many of the signatories below which have been involved in the issues of the WTO since before its inception. Although we observe the participation of the International Trade Union Confederation, there are no representatives from other important civil society groups, such as farmers, indigenous peoples, women’s rights groups, consumer organizations, the international human rights community, or the global health community.

             As well, the diversity of the membership of the WTO is extremely ill-represented on this panel. Of the 12 panelists, only one is from Africa and only one is from Latin America. Despite the importance of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the current negotiations, there are no representatives from the LDCs on the panel.

             Additionally, we are extremely dismayed that the one global institution focused on ensuring that trade does serve development goals, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was excluded from this panel. The exclusion of UNCTAD only serves to provide further evidence that the WTO Secretariat intends to use the panel to formulate a path for future negotiations that excludes the very concept of development from the WTO’s goal of expanding trade.

             The WTO is, by statute, a member-driven organization. Thus, any initiatives to move forward regarding future negotiations should come from the membership. We find the process of the composition of the panel to have been autocratic and not in keeping with the rhetoric of a member-driven organization.

             We are also extremely cognizant of the fact that a similar panel, the so-called Leutweiler report commissioned by then Director-General of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Arthur Dunkel, also lacked legitimacy, but was nevertheless utilized to crowd out a truly member-driven process with stakeholder participation, which would have led to a much more development-oriented result.

             Thus, we call on you to dissolve this “panel”, given that any proposals which emanate from it would lack legitimacy. Instead, we call on you to work with the membership to identify the changes to the existing WTO and ongoing negotiations that are necessary to ensure that governments have the policy space to use trade for sustainable and inclusive development, and to regulate in the public interest.

 

Sincerely,

11.11.11, Belgium

Africa Trade Network

Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Philippines

All Nepal Peasants' Federation (ANPFa-Nepal)

Alternative Information & Development Centre, South Africa

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)

Bangladesh Adivasi Samity

Bangladesh Kishani Sabha

Bangladesh Krishok Federation

Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS), India

Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC)

Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS), Philippines

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Belgium

Council of Canadians

Fairwatch, Italy

Focus on the Global South

Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (FOCO) – Argentina

Friends of the Earth, United States

IDEALS, Philippines

Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ)

International Forum on Globalization, United States

KEPA, Finland

Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria

National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS)

National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI), South Africa

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), India

Oakland Institute, United States

Pacific Network on Globalization (PANG)

Public Citizen, United States

Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC), Mexico

Solidarite, France

South Asian Peasant Coalition (SAPC)

Third World Network-Africa 

Third World Network

War on Want, UK

World Development Movement, UK

Worldview, The Gambia