Thursday, September 18, 2003
Wat Tyler's Organisation - 18th September 2003, 21.24

The failure of the World Trade Organisation talks at Cancun was unsurprising. The developing countries called for the reduction of tariffs and subsidies on agricultural goods in the EU/USA but failed to see that the same advantages would accrue even faster if their own levies were also abolished. The European Union suffered the greatest failure of all since its attempt to undermine the core competence of the WTO with environmental and social assessments proved too bitter a pill for any country to swallow. Eco-protectionism did not have the strength to dominate the multilateral trading system.

In his initial assessment of the failure at Cancun, Pascal Levy stated that the European Union would look towards bilateral and regional trade deals as the current round of trade talks had reached an impasse. This was a standard position of most of the participants. However, like the United States, the EU is now assessing whether the current structure of the WTO accurately reflects their interests. The United States wishes to reform voting to reflect the trading strengths of individual members and we can assume that the EU would wish to include environmental and social criteria in any changes to the WTO's mission.

The rich countries get a bloody nose and, instead of defending the free trade that has enriched their countries, prefer to fix the rules of the game again so that the peasants don't talk back.


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