FTA urges gov’t to push for development in WTO stalemate

THE multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) urges Philippine negotiators to push for development at the core of the stalled World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in Geneva instead of settling for the current tabled proposals in Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

“We, at the FTA, are not against the proposal to speed up these trade talks – so long as the whole process remains transparent and the outcomes, truly supportive of development for developing countries and equitable for all WTO members,” former Senator and FTA lead convenor Wigberto Tañada said.

Also, according to FTA, awareness and unity are badly needed in the coming months as the WTO is trying to put a closure to a trade-development round that is constantly in danger of formally becoming an anti-development round.

The Doha Development Round (DDR), so named to emphasize the WTO’s preambular call for trade to be in the service of development, is winding up in 2006 with the rules of the WTO still stacked up in favor of the developed countries. According to FTA, despite some small positive openings, WTO failed to make a substantial dent on the unequal global trade architecture dominated by the big trading powers.

In a position paper submitted to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, FTA expressed apprehension that the pressures of self-imposed deadlines were artificially being used by WTO General Secretary Pascal Lamy and his supporters in the developed countries in order to push for trade modalities unequal and unfair to the Philippines and other developing countries.

Lamy expects the economic ministers to wrap up the final agreement on the modalities for Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA), General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and other related trade concerns that were unresolved in the 6th Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong last December. The idea is to complete by the end of 2006 the DDR, which has divided the developed and the developing countries since its launching in 2001.

“We, at the FTA, reiterate our position: the country needs a pause from this liberalization mania being pushed by the WTO. Instead, what we need today is a critical assessment of the Philippine integration in the global economy and the development of a more balanced program of global integration,” Tanada said.

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