WTO: how to make it work for the poorest developing countries?

Participants at a CEPS conference on 19 September discussed ideas for the better representation of the interests of the poorest developing countries.

The two main issues at Cancún for the poorest developing countries were special and differential treatment (STD) and agriculture.

The speakers and participants were generally puzzled by the abrupt ending of the Cancún talks, which they would have expected to continue beyond its pre-determined deadline.

An interesting discussion emerged on the development of the anti-globalisation movement over the years. By now, two groups of NGOs can be identified, with one group “inside”, and the other “outside” the barricades. The fair trade movement, whose aim is to make sure that producers in developing countries are paid a price that covers their cost of production and living, is gaining market share around the world.


Speaking on behalf of a development NGO,Genevra Forwoodexplained thatSolidarwas one of the NGOs “inside the barricades” and, as such, they did not applaud the failure of world trade talks. Solidar considers the existence of clear multilateral trade rules important as a tool to eradicate poverty in the world, in line with the UN’s Millennium Goals. Ms Forwood considered the emergence of the G21 group a very positive development and called for other such alliances to be built to help change the developing countries’ defensive approach to world trade talks.


The WTO's Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancún Mexico (10-14 September) failed to deliver its intended goals, namely, to take stock of the progress made in the Doha Round of negotiations and to establish a framework for future negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda, due to conclude by the end of 2004. The blame game is now on as trade policy analysts around the world are trying to find the reasons for the collapse.

On 19 September, stakeholders gathered at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) to discuss the causes of failure at Cancún as well as to reflect on the findings of the Foreign Policy Centre's publication "Rethinking Fair Trade".


The Commission is due to discuss the outcome of the WTO Conference on 23 September in Strasbourg.


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