Doha round

Canadian government contributes to failed WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong

Tuesday 20 December 2005, by The Council of Canadians

While a few hours remain for the delegates to come up with a face saving document, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Hong Kong is clearly a failure. The true meaning of development has been gutted for proposals in favor of a rich country market access agenda. This agenda will be imposed on the poorest nations of the world by governments like ours.

Led by International Trade Minister Jim Peterson, Canada’s position rests solely on prying open developing country markets for our service multinationals. Minister Peterson and his team were very active in pushing a deeper and accelerated form of negotiations on services at the WTO. Known as plurilateral negotiations, they allow the “friends” of a particular service sector to write the rules and then impose them on other nations who would have little choice but to acquiesce.

These new approaches to negotiations came out of nowhere last September and were unnecessary given the fact that the GATS or services negotiations already have full “modalities”, while agriculture and industrial tariff negotiations do not.

“By taking an aggressive stance on services, the Canadian delegation has not only failed to deliver on the promise of development oriented rules, it has tarnished Canada’s reputation abroad and put Canada’s public services in jeopardy,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. The failure of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is ultimately a positive sign for developing countries and for Canadians.

The Council of Canadians calls on the government of Canada to develop a trade strategy that protects and improves the quality of public services offered in Canada and around the world, instead of one that promotes the interest of multinational corporations.

Founded in 1985, The Council of Canadians is Canada’s pre-eminent citizens’ watchdog organization, and has fought the negative effects of freer trade since the original Free Trade Agreement with the United States in 1989.

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Please note: Maude Barlow and Jean-Yves Lefort, Council of Canadians Trade campaigner, are available by phone from Hong Kong for interviews.

For more information please contact: Jan Malek, Communications Administrator, The Council of Canadians, office: Tel.: (613) 233-4487, ext. 231; Cell: (613) 795-8685; Email: jmalek@canadians.org

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