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Free Trade: Mike Moore / WTO
21 July 1999
Media release from GATT Watchdog ...
One small step for Mr Moore, one giant leap towards dismantling the WTO.
News that Mike Moore has been informally approved at a meeting of the WTO General Council to take over the role of WTO Director-General will be too late to fix the deep fissures among the 134-member organisation, says GATT Watchdog.
"But we think he's undoubtedly the best man for the job. Mr Moore has always proved to be at the extreme end of the spectrum in ideological fervour about free trade and investment. At a time when people are questioning the drive to speed up and expand economic liberalisation, with APEC looking so fragile that it has lost almost all credibility with free marketeers and critics alike, having a true believer in the globalisation gospel as the figurehead of the WTO will be very helpful in bringing things to a head and will no doubt speed up our own goal of delegitimising and dismantling the WTO and other forums which promote market models of economic development as if they are the only alternative." says Aziz Choudry, a spokesman for the coalition, which has campaigned against the GATT/WTO for a decade.
"Despite the claims that Mr Moore and his fellow travellers make about globalisation, the narrow economic dogma that the WTO promotes and enforces is contributing to conflicts around the world, from the US-EU banana dispute, to the spread of communal violence in many countries hit by austerity measures and economic liberalisation, to the ongoing conflict in Chiapas, Mexico in the wake of the coming into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Many of them have their roots in the increasing global economic instability and inequity between and within nations as a result of the acceleration of free market, trade and investment measures which the WTO promotes."
"Those tensions will colour the upcoming APEC Leaders Circus in Auckland, and the so-called Millennium Round of WTO negotiations when it kicks off in Seattle this November."
"The apparent WTO leadership compromise solution merely glosses over the divisions, marginalisation and frustration among a growing number of countries who have been questioning who benefits from existing commitments to economic liberalisation. Naturally, the New Zealand Government and others who still believe in freemarket fairy tales do not want to deal with this. And the Mike Moore WTO story gives Jenny Shipley's beleaguered spin doctors another chance to try and woo a public grown weary of wild and wacky promises about free trade in the weeks prior to the APEC Summit, without dealing with any of the real issues."
"There is already pressure from "developed" nations to expand the GATT/WTO agriculture, services and intellectual property agreements, and to introduce issues like competition policy, government procurement, and possibly try to resurrect an MAI-style agreement on investment within the WTO. By contrast, a number of Third World governments have repeatedly expressed their scepticism and concern about the supposed benefits of existing trade and investment liberalisation commitments, and warn that a new negotiating round with new issues will further marginalise them."
"Look at the US track record on trade - one of Mr Moore's strongest backers. It bullies the rest of the world to open up their markets, yet consistently refuses to follow the same economic recipe itself. That is the reality of the multilateral trade framework under the WTO - protection for the powerful - market discipline, regardless of the costs, for the rest", said Mr Choudry.
For further comment, ph Aziz Choudry, GATT Watchdog (03) 3662803