Benjamin Geer on Thu, 23 May 2002 21:50:47 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> WTO to shut down, refound under new charter

[NOTE: On May 21, information regarding the WTO's restructuring was
released prematurely at a special luncheon of CPA Australia, Sydney
( The
early release of this information, which met with overwhelming approval,
has accelerated this announcement, originally scheduled for next Friday.]

May 23, 2002


After a protracted and detailed review of current trade policy and its
effects on developing countries, the World Trade Organization has decided
to effect a cessation of all operations, to be accomplished over a period
of four months, culminating in September. The WTO will reintegrate as a
new trade body whose charter will be to ensure that trade benefits the

As of September, agreements reached under the WTO will be suspended
pending ratification by the new organization, tentatively referred to as
the Trade Regulation Organization. Many existing agreements are likely to
be re-ratified, but each will be subject to individual review for
compliance with the TRO's charter, which is based upon the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.

The restructuring has come in response to numerous studies
( indicating that current trade
liberalisation rules and policies have led to increased poverty and
inequality, and have eroded democratic principles, with a
disproportionately large effect on the poorest countries.

Under the restructuring, the GATS agreement will be scrapped entirely, and
a new agreement regulating services will be forged after an assessment of
the effects of past services liberalisation, and when there has been
adequate opportunity for governments and civil society to analyse and
debate new proposals.

In addition, all aspects of TRIPS, TRIMS, AoA, and other agreements will
be reviewed with humanitarian and other considerations in mind, and will
be progressively replaced with corresponding versions under the TRO.

Proposals and resolutions for the foundation of the TRO will be evaluated
beginning in June according to their likelihood of furthering the TRO
charter. Specifically this will mean redressing the imbalances of existing
trade agreements; providing access for developing countries to developed
countries’ markets; assessing the effects past trade liberalization and
redressing problems where possible; and developing an enforceable
framework for special and differential treatment guaranteeing that
development policies are not undermined by trade agreements.

The immediate necessity, besides fixing core problems, will be to build a
new regime of trust among members (notably between HIC and LDC members),
with civil society organizations (NGOs), and with members of the public.
The core goal is to establish rules whose priority is to benefit the poor,
improve the environment, and strengthen democratic principles--in a
pragmatic and immediate rather than theoretical and longterm sense.

In order to provide greater access to the Least Developed Countries who
will most benefit from the existence of the TRO, the organisation's
headquarters will be moved from their current location in Geneva to the
capital of one of the LDCs. Proposals for final location are currently
being solicited.


World Trade Organization Public Relations: CPA
Australia Public Relations:

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Studies page:

This release online:

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