G90 must ensure that development becomes priority in WTO negotiations
As Ministers of the G90 group gather in Guyana June 3rd -4th 2004, for a forum intended ‘to adopt a common strategy’ for the contentious WTO negotiations, NGOs in the Caribbean are urging the Ministers to remain steadfast in their opposition to the current ‘agenda’ within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to ensure that development issues become a priority in the negotiations.
As the pressure mounts to meet the July deadline for framework agreements in the General Council of the WTO, the Caribbean (NGO) Reference Group (CRG ) is concerned that while attention has been focused on the discussion around the Singapore issues, not enough attention has been paid to dealing with the critical issue of providing greater Special & Differential Treatment for developing countries as well as issues related to capacity/ resource constraints and implementation difficulties.
The CRG believes that the Singapore issues should not only be left outside of the “single undertaking’ but outside of the WTO negotiations all together.
According to Shantal Munro-Knight Snr. Program Officer at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) ‘ The Singapore issues should be laid to rest, time and time again we have said no, all of the energies are being devoted to coming with an acceptable formula to have these included and not enough on dealing with fundamental issues that affect small states like those in the Caribbean.’
Mrs Munro- Knight adds that ‘It seems that we are being diverted from the most important task - how do we ensure that the so called Doha Development Round becomes just that and it is not just a question of Agriculture alone but how do we reform the WTO. If developing countries don’t stand firm at this juncture, we will miss an opportunity that may never arise again.’
Additionally, the CRG, a grouping of expert NGOs working on trade which is coordinated by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) is urging Ministers that while they consider proposals put forward by the EU to strongly reject the notion of “Round for Free” which suggests that developing countries like those in the Caribbean can be given a free pass in the negotiations. The CRG believes that this concept trivializes the serious implications that these negotiations will have on our economies and vulnerable sectors and groups.
The CRG indicates that it supports multi-lateral trade negotiations in so far as they are fair and transparent and they are geared towards rules that will bring equity and ensure further development for the region.
The CRG is made of the major networks in the English, Spanish and French speaking Caribbean.
June 1, 2004
For further information please contact Shantal Munro-Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-246-437-6055