by John Vidal, Larry Elliott and Charlotte Denny
Crucial global trade talks open in the luxury holiday resort of
Cancun today with 146 countries squaring up for a bruising five days
of negotiations . . .
Whereas previous trade rounds have been stitched up by the EU, the
US and Japan, poor countries have roundly rejected a last-minute
deal on agriculture from Washington and Brussels as inadequate.
Instead a coalition of developing countries, representing 60% of the
world's farmers, has tabled its own far more ambitious proposal,
which would substantially cut western farm subsidies - currently
worth six times more than all global aid spending. . . .
Agriculture - Developing countries want richer nations to cut huge
Industrial tariffs - The US wants to open developing world markets to
exports, but states fear cheap imports will swamp infant industries
Global investment - EU wants WTO global rules putting foreign
investors on same footing as local firms
Services - West wants free trade expanded into service sector, where
its banks and financiers enjoy advantages
Special deals for poorer countries - Developing nations want
concessions on onerous WTO rules and agreements
Enver Masud, "Corporate
Globalization Threatens World's Poor, Middle Class," The Wisdom
Fund, October 10, 2000
Enver Masud, "Deregulation
Fiasco, Red Flag for Developing Countries," The Wisdom Fund,
February 5, 2001
[The European Union and Japan are urging trade ministers to consider
adding four new issues to the current round of treaty talks, which
are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.
Developing countries remain unconvinced.
The four topics include the contentious area of setting
international rules on investment by multinational companies. The
others are competition policy, improving transparency in government
contracts and simplifying procedures surrounding cross-border
Considers Expanding Negotiations,"Associated Press, September 12, 2003]
Paul Blustein, "
Economist's Challenge Puzzles Free-Trade Believers," Washington Post,
February 26, 2004
Vandana Shiva, "The Indian Seed Act
And Patent Act: Sowing The Seeds Of Dictatorship," Z Magazine, February
[40% of the EU budget was currently spent on agriculture--"Blair tells EU to
change or fail," BBC News, June 23, 2005]
P. Sainath, "The
Corporate Hijack of India's Water," counterpunch.org, April 12, 2006