World Trade Organisation

About the WTO

 

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) founded in 1995 aims to increase international trade in goods, services and agriculture through multilateral negotiations. It also serves to enforce adherence to WTO agreements through its dispute resolution process.

The failure of the WTO to deliver meaningful outcomes for poorer countries, along with its fundamentalist neoliberal agenda has led to stalled negotiations and dashed hopes of a functioning multilateral trade system, let alone a fair one.

From 1995 the WTO had agreements on goods, services, agriculture, intellectual property, and other issues. But over the last decade the WTO has stalled on new agreements, with only one agreement reached between all its members: the 2013 “Bali Package” on trade facilitation, which had a tiny scope compared with previous meetings and overall WTO objectives. The WTO has focussed instead on negotiating smaller agreements involving fewer countries. 

The result of the WTO’s shortcomings has been an increasing number of bilateral and regional free trade agreements being negotiated outside the WTO framework. These include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)

These deals have generally left out the poorest countries and pushed a more “ambitious” corporate agenda, including chapters which are not about traditional trade issues at all – such as increased investor rights, greater restrictions on government regulation and stronger intellectual property provisions which are actually the opposite of “free trade” since they promote stronger monopolies.

 

Parliamentary committee to review WTO procurement agreement - submissions due February 1

3 December 2018: The Australian government finished negotiating its accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) in November 2018, after four years of secret negotiations.

Our concerns are that these commitments may limit the ability of federal or state governments to use government procurement decisions to promote local development.

Nobody wins in Trump’s trade war

June 1, 2018: President Trump last month imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from China and Japan, and has now extended these to Canada, Mexico and the EU. The pretext for these actions is that the aluminium and steel industries are essential to US national security. The US now faces tariff retaliation from all of these countries, as well as legal action through the World Trade Organisation, which is not likely to accept the national security argument.

Women’s rights groups slam WTO’s ‘pink herring’ Declaration on Women’s Economic Empowerment

13 December 2017: Over 160 women’s rights groups and allied organisations have urged WTO member governments not to agree to the proposed “Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment”, which they describe as a ‘pink herring’ intended to ‘mask the failures of the WTO and its role in deepening inequality and exploitation’.

Argentina bans community groups from World Trade Organisation Meeting, despite their being approved by the WTO

Media Release, December 1, 2017: In an unprecedented action, the Argentine government has revoked the accreditation of 63 civil society experts ― trade unionists, development advocates, digital rights activists, environmentalists, and others ― just days before the 11th Ministerial meeting of the WTO (MC11) in Buenos Aires, advising the WTO that the experts will not be allowed in the country to participate in the meeting. The majority of the rejected organizations work together through the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network.

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