News Release

WTO Meets in Hong Kong


The World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference will take place Dec. 13-18 in Hong Kong.

An economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot said today: “According to a recent World Bank study [‘Agricultural Trade Reform and the Doha Development Agenda’], even a very successful Doha Round would lead to tiny gains for developing countries — less than three-tenths of 1 percent and possibly even much smaller. This is about 2 cents a day per person for developing countries. If this is the best the World Bank expects from the Doha Round, shouldn’t those interested in poverty alleviation be asking for a different agenda? … What makes this so damaging is that developing countries are being asked to make very costly concessions in exchange for these barely measurable gains.”
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James is the global economy director for Global Exchange. She will be in Hong Kong during the WTO meeting. She said today: “After 10 years of experience with the WTO, civil society and governments around the world are increasingly rejecting corporate globalization in favor of more democratic systems of governance that protect jobs, promote economic development, and safeguard our environment.”
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Wallach is the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. She said today: “Efforts to extend the failed status quo trade and globalization model are facing growing opposition worldwide, as we saw with the recent breakdown of FTAA talks at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina. Countries are calling into question the conventional wisdom on the benefits of this particular model of trade — NAFTA in this hemisphere and the WTO globally.”

Waskow is the international program director of Friends of the Earth. He said today: “These negotiations may force open developing countries to agricultural products from rich countries, impoverishing small farmers and undercutting sustainable agricultural practices. That reality will be made worse as tariff reductions in sectors such as fish and forest products will fuel depletion of the natural resources that the poor in developing countries depend on for their livelihoods.”

Rajah is the international migrant rights program coordinator at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. He said today: “Through its ‘Mode 4’ deal, the WTO is proposing to create a global guestworker program that will enable corporations to dictate the flow of temporary workers — whose rights and immigrant status would be tied to their employer, exposing them to significant abuse with no possibility of permanent residency. It’s important to understand that trade agreements struck by the WTO have caused communities to lose their livelihoods and forced people to migrate, while using immigrants as cheap, disposable labor for corporations.”

Mittal is founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute. She will be in Hong Kong during the WTO Ministerial Conference meeting and will host a daily live radio show to be broadcast by KPFK in Los Angeles and other radio stations. She said today: “Our broadcasts will include live panel discussions, interviews with politicians and analysts, speeches, reports from street protests, press conferences, and official events.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167