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WTO Pacific - PCRC statement

2 Dec 1999

Media Release


Pacific island governments should not to adopt the agenda of the rich and developed nations at this week's World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting, according to the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC).

PCRC calls on Pacific island governments attending the WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle, to develop their own agenda in co-operation with other developing countries.

Fei Tevi, PCRC Assistant Director for Sustainable Human Development, states:

"We should stand with countries of similar status (such as the Group of 77) and call for the full implementation of existing commitments made by the North. Pacific nations should support the review, repair and reform of the WTO; and special treatment for vulnerable and fragile economies, such as Pacific Island countries."

Industrialised countries, lobbied by transnational corporations, are proposing to add new issues under the mandate of the WTO through a new round of negotiations, pompously termed "the Millenium Round." They hope to bring issues such as investment, education, and communications under WTO rules and regulations. However, before adding new areas, there needs to be a review of the impact of WTO trade and policy laws, and how they have affected developing countries and the most vulnerable communities, including women, young people and the rural poor.

The benefits of globalisation have bypassed most developing countries. Around 1.6 billion people are economically worse off today than 15 years ago. Protectionism is prohibited for developing countries by WTO rules and standards, while the United States can impose restrictions on the entry of specific goods from particular countries. While developing countries are forced to remove tariffs, European States continue to heavily subsidise their agricultural products in order to dump them in southern markets.

Tevi added: "The effects of globalisation could be beneficial to our Small Islands Developing States in the Pacific. However, if in the process 90% of our population are marginalised and the future of our countries determined by profit driven and faceless transnational corporations, then the whole argument of liberalisation, privatisation, and deregulation is seriously flawed and totally foreign to our social and cultural values."

"Giving more powers to the WTO will diminish the regulatory powers of nation states and local communities, limiting their right to make laws about public health, the environment, food safety, culture, labour rights and other vital issues," says Tevi.

For more information, please call Lopeti Senituli or Nic Maclellan on (679) 307 649

PCRC is the Secretariat of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement. PCRC has Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

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