June 30, 2017: The Joint Select Committee on Government Procurement has recommended that the Commonwealth Procurement Rules should be clarified and strengthened to encourage Australian suppliers. To ensure this, the Australian Government must not enter into trade agreements which could undermine these benefits to local industry and employment.
World Trade Organisation
Governments should be able to use procurement policies to encourage industry development and local employment. Negotiations for current and future trade agreements should ensure that trade agreement provisions do not prevent procurement policies from meeting these goals.
Read AFTINET's Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Government Procurement (March 2017).
In 2015, the Australian government began negotiations to join the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. Only 45 of the 164 WTO members have joined, because most governments want to keep the ability to use government procurement to develop local industries like the steel industry . Read AFTINET's submission here.
Media Release, June 2, 2016: “Buried deep in the Australia Institute’s report released today, called Manufacturing Still Matters, is a blistering critique of trade deals that weaken governments’ ability to use their own purchasing power to support local industry,” Dr Patricia Ranald, C
December 23, 2015: Positive outcomes of the WTO Ministerial meeting include some restraints on some, but not all, unfair agricultural export subsidies used by the US and EU, the exclusion of pro-corporate investment issues, and the retention of some development issues in future negotiations. But the WTO needs big changes to address the growing gap between rich and poor countries, See analysis by Deborah James, UN expert Alfred de Zayas, and Oxfam.
December 14, 2015: Over 450 civil society organizations from over 150 countries have signed a letter to WTO member governments ahead of the 10th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Nairobi. The letter asks them to change existing WTO rules to make the global trading system more compatible with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and to keep the Doha development agenda, not replace it with “new issues” that would constrain development and public interest policies.
By Jemma Williams
India has come under heavy criticism recently for blocking the implementation of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement reached at Bali last December.
Proponents celebrated the Bali ‘package’ as a long-awaited achievement by the WTO, which had failed to reach a significant agreement since 1995. However, critics lamented that the Bali deal was skewed in the favour of developed nations above developing nations (read AFTINET’s critique of the Bali package here).
By Peter Murphy
Farmer, trade union, women and other civil society organisations who were focused on trade justice at the Bali World Trade Organisation Ministerial were disappointed in the ‘package’ that was adopted, while the WTO itself was elated.
At the extended close on December 7, 2013, Director-General Roberto Azevado declared it was the most significant decision since 1995. He even said, “For the first time in our history: the WTO has truly delivered!” But the outcome was a squib.
Launched in 2001 at its meeting in Qatar, the Doha round of negotiations lasted for ten years without agreement. The talks were dubbed the 'development' round because of their stated claim to meet the concerns of the countries from the Global South. But this claim has not been a reality. The talks have collapsed several times, and were finally discontinued on the 10th anniversary in December 2011. Australia and some other countries are now attempting to negotiate with a smaller number of countries in particular sectors like services, but this excludes most developing countries.
The WTO aims to liberalise international trade in goods and services, through removing tariffs, restricting or removing government regulation, and by increasing intellectual property rights. The WTO has attracted widespread criticism and protest for the neo-liberal free market policies that it promotes, along with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The neo-liberal model of development has encouraged the growth of free trade zones in developing countries, based on poor working conditions and low environmental standards, promoting a race to the bottom to attract investors. AFTINET believes that the WTO should develop a fair multilateral trade system which enables governments to regulate in the public interest, gives real recognition to the needs of developing countries and is based on United Nations agreements on human rights, labour rights and the environment.