Monday, September 15, 2003
( 1:04 PM )
WTO talks fall apart. Read a great explanation of this situation from Crooked Timber (thanks to Atrios for the link). This post is excellent, and I thoroughly recommend everyone read it.
As a brief explanation, what happened in Cancun is a perfect illustration of two forces coming together in conflict - the two explanations of what the WTO is about. While most news reports said the Cancun round was about farm subsidies, there was something else on the agenda: the old argument that multinational companies should have precedence over national governments in setting trade rules.
When push came to shove, the rich nations were
not prepared to give an inch to the poor ones on
agriculture unless they got their quid pro quo in the
form of progress toward an agenda which has
nothing to do with trade and everything to do with
massively undermining the ability of democratically
elected governments to set the terms on which the
ownership of the means of production is decided.
On the basis that you can tell a lot about a person
or an organisation from what it regards as negotiable
and what it regards as a deal-breaker, it appears
that those who suspected that the WTO was a ploy
to force a political agenda down the throats of the
third world would appear to have a point. It is going
to take a heck of a lot for the WTO to win back the
credibility it lost in Cancun.
There are so many reasons that I'm against the WTO. But the main one was the subject matter of the collapse in Cancun. I am very glad that the small countries stood up for themselves and protected their sovreignty and national rights. What the "free traders" don't like to talk about is that while the beneficiaries of the huge corporations will make out like bandits in any of these "trade" deals, it is the citizenship of every nation of this world that will be hurt unless globalization depends on fair trade and the support of governments, not mastery over them.