WTO secret plurilateral negotiating texts leaked

February 18, 2021: World Trade Organisation secret documents on the plurilateral: e-commerce, investment facilitation and services domestic regulation negotiations have been leaked to a civil society group website. Unpublished texts on the multilateral fisheries negotiations are also available at https://bilaterals.org/?-other-

Normal multilateral WTO negotiations involve all 164 Member States and negotiating texts have been published on the WTO website as negotiations advance. This is an important principle of transparency in the WTO.

However, in recent years there have been several “coalitions of the willing” negotiations in situations where the majority of developing countries has refused to negotiate on further liberalisation proposals from rich countries. In these “plurilateral” negotiations, mostly involving rich countries, the texts have been kept secret. This is a reduction in both democratic participation and transparency in the WTO.

Australia has taken the lead in plurilateral processes to further liberalise trade in services and in e-commerce.

An analysis of the leaked plurilateral ecommerce text by UN Conference on Trade and Development economist Dr Rashmi Banga of the economic impacts for low income countries is available at https://bilaterals.org/?wto-plurilateral-ecommerce-draft.

AFTINET will post updates as further analysis is done on these leaked texts.