Global Policy Forum

The WTO's Fifth Ministerial Conference


Cancun, Mexico
September 10 to 14, 2003


Articles | Links

Articles and Documents

Doha Is Not Dead Just Yet, But What Exactly Has Been Saved? (October 26, 2004)
In July 2004, World Trade Organization (WTO) members partly resolved the 2003 Cancún Ministerial Conference deadlock by agreeing on a "July Package." This article argues that even if the package saved the WTO from collapsing, the multilateral trading system will remain off balance until rich countries face the inequalities in the WTO system. (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

The WTO Under Fire (September 18, 2003)
The Economist considers the failure of the Cancun Ministerial a "tragedy." This article worries that if the Doha trade round cannot be revived, the multilateral negotiation forum WTO will quietly sink into oblivion, and poor countries will remain the biggest victims.

"Mixed Feelings" About the Debacle (September 15, 2003)
The WTO negotiations in Cancun collapsed over profound disagreements between rich and poor countries. Instead of giving in to the EU and the US, who demanded negotiations on the controversial "Singapore Issues," poor countries stood firmly together and urged the end of agricultural subsidies. (Inter Press Service)

Cotton Becomes a Litmus Test (September 11, 2003)
Four African states - Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali - launched a "cotton initiative" for negotiations at the WTO, asking the US and the EU to take responsibility for their destructive trade policies and to end "unfair subsidies" granted to their cotton producers. (Inter Press Service)

A Rough Row (September 9, 2003)
The issue of ending agricultural subsidies threatens to overshadow more important problems within the WTO. This article urges critics of the WTO not to forget that the main problem is the price poor countries have to pay for their admission to the WTO: the surrender of economic autonomy. (TomPaine)

Africans Head for WTO with Low Expectations (September 8, 2003)
African trade ministers and officials approach the WTO ministerial conference with great skepticism. They fear that the EU and the US will not concede ending farm subsidies, and worry about the potential negative effects of proposed new investment and competition rules. (allAfrica)

Why a Derailed WTO Ministerial is the Best Outcome for the South (September 4, 2003)
This article argues that poor countries would benefit from a stalemated ministerial in Cancun. It will give them the time and breathing space to organize their defense and to mount the reversal of corporate-driven globalization. (Inter Press Service)

Deal Reached over Cheap Drugs for Poor Nations (September 1, 2003)
WTO negotiators reached a deal on generic drugs which seeks to increase poor countries' access to affordable life-saving drugs. Yet, Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontií¨res criticize the agreement for requiring poor countries to issue compulsory licenses when exporting or importing the drugs. (Guardian)

To Be or Not to Be at Cancun (September 1, 2003)
Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo argues that bold moves, not incremental negotiations, are required at the Cancun meeting if the Doha Round of trade talks is to be saved. (Forbes)

Doha Declaration Decided. The Fate of Medicine Access in Poor Countries (August 28, 2003)
This ZNet article criticizes the US government for obstructing a WTO agreement on medicine patents and parroting the arguments of the pharmaceutical industry. The accord is an exceptional international trade agreement as it addresses both humanitarian and economic concerns.

Transnationals Urge Flexibility from Rich Nations (August 22, 2003)
Hoping to energize trade negotiations, business leaders have called on the US, EU, and Japan to make concessions to developing countries on agriculture and intellectual property issues. Such a move would allow for progress on other topics, like investment, central to transnational corporations' concerns. (Inter Press Service)

World Bank and IMF Announce Plans to Support Developing Countries (August 20, 2003)
World Bank President James Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst Kí¶hler, eager to see a successful conclusion of the Doha round, have announced a new plan to assist poor countries in their economic adjustments to meet the WTO requirements. (World Bank)

Stumbling Towards Disaster: The Trade Charade (August 16, 2003)
The International Herald Tribune argues that the current trade round can favorably influence the export industries of poor countries, provided the rich countries fulfill their Doha obligations to abandon their protectionist policies.

Trade Imbalances (August 14, 2003)
Poor countries fear the Cancun negotiations will duplicate the undemocratic processes of former WTO rounds. Joseph Stiglitz presents a checklist to assess whether developed countries were sincere when they committed themselves to give up their trade interests for the sake of development. (Guardian)

Cancun Ministerial – Rough Edges and Loose Ends (August 13, 2003)
Cancun negotiations will include the issues of intellectual property and public health, which are of vital interest for developing countries. This Business Line article criticizes the US for favoring intellectual property rights over worldwide access to medicine.

Making Trade Fair (August 6, 2003)
World leaders and consumers increasingly support ‘fair trade' products. This has pushed civic organizations to set up the ‘International Fair Trade Fair' in Cancun, demanding the incorporation of fair trade principles in WTO trade rules. (StrausCom)

Rocky Road for WTO at Cancun (August 6, 2003)
Many poor countries expect that Japan, the US and the EU are going to use negotiations on investment at Cancun to give multinationals greater market access and less legal responsibility. (Asia Times)

ACP Trade Ministers Say There Is No Basis for Negotiating Singapore Issues (August 3, 2003)
Lack of transparent guidelines for negotiations on non-tariff trade barriers and government procurement could undermine the critical role the group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries must play in multilateral trade agreements. (Third World Network)

Countdown to Cancun (July 25, 2003)
At the 2001 WTO ministerial conference at Doha, delegates from the EU, US, Japan, and other rich countries pledged to reform unfair trade rules that lie at the root of global poverty. Two years later, these countries have reneged on promises to reform subsidies, relax drug patent laws, and increase global AIDS funding. (War on Want)

Run-Up to Cancun: WTO's Singapore Issues Caught in a Sling (July 21, 2003)
India and other developing countries oppose the competition, investment, government procurement, and trade facilitation policies proposed by rich countries. These "Singapore Issues" undermine governments' ability to determine terms of trade and foreign investment appropriate for their cultures and economies. (Business Standard)

Cancun: A Battle for Life (July 16, 2003)
WTO trade rules favor rich countries over poor countries. In Cancun, the developing world must fight for a more equitable balance. (Jakarta Post)

The Cancun Democracy Challenge (July 2003)
The World Development Movement joins other NGOs in a call for reform of the WTO decision-making process. Their statement focuses on the lack of democracy, transparency and accountability of the WTO.

Corporate Conquistadors in Cancun (July 2003)
The European Commission lobbies for a WTO-Multilateral Investment Agreement to advance European corporate interests in foreign markets. Narrow agendas negotiated before Cancun undermine opportunities for civic action and open-ended dialogue with poor member countries at the WTO. (Investment Watch)

NGOs Organize Against Proposed WTO Investment Agreement (June 23, 2003)
Rich countries want the WTO to protect investors' rights, but leading NGOs argue that such a move would weaken the ability of poor countries to protect their workers and the natural environment. (One World)

WTO Ignores Calls for Democratic, Inclusive Processes for Cancun (July 20, 2003)
Decrying a lack of transparency and undemocratic processes in the WTO, civil society and ministers from poor countries lobby the organization for open-ended consultations before Cancun. (ATTAC)

Second LDC Trade Ministers' Meeting News (June 3, 2003)
Knowing coherence is the only way to be an effective force in the WTO, the Least Developed Countries unite behind a common set of trade objectives for the Cancun negotiations despite their different economic needs. (The Star Times)

Countdown to Cancun (June 2, 2003)
Negotiations grow increasingly political and exclusive as the strongest economic powers focus the agenda on their positions. Members must commit to transparency and consensus to save the creditability of the WTO as a multi-lateral forum. (Focus on the Global South)

Global Trade Unions State Position for WTO Cancun Meeting (April 4, 2003)
This statement from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) calls for debt relief, democracy, environmental protection, poverty eradication and core labor standards as part of a wider WTO agenda to increase global growth and improve living standards. The ICFTU sets out clear goals and recommendations for the 2003 ministerial meeting in Cancun.

Laying the Groundwork for Cancun: Another Doha "Success" (September 25, 2002)
Aileen Kwa of Focus on the Global South reveals how powerful countries are already taking steps to manipulate the 2003 Cancun ministerial in their favor. Developed countries have requested that the process in Cancun remain "flexible," in effect allowing those with the most power to bend procedural rules at will.

Links and Resources

Center for Sustainable Trade and Development (ICTSD)
A Geneva based organization that plays a non-partisan role in informing the public on trade issues and engaging in on-going dialogue with various international actors. The site includes full coverage of the Cancun conference and the weekly publication of Bridges, a trade news digest.

Doha WTO Ministerial Declaration (November 14, 2001)
The World Trade Organization adopted this declaration at the 2001 Fouth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, to assist developing countries in implementing WTO agreements, covering issues related to agriculture, services, industrial tariffs, investment, trade and competition policy. (WTO)

International Fair Trade Fair
A trade fair taking place parallel to the WTO Cancun ministerial conference, promoting ‘fair trade' as an alternative to ‘free trade'.

Investment Watch
This site monitors the Multilateral Investment Agreement, which aims to expand the mandate of the WTO to foreign investment, significantly reducing the abilities of poorer WTO members to manage foreign investments effectively.

The Trade Observatory
The new home of WTO Watch, which reports on the World Trade Organization's upcoming and daily events in Cancun, along with live and archived multimedia reporting from delegates, officials, community leaders and activists throughout the Conference.

The World Trade Organization
An international organization that deals with the rules of trade between its member nations.

Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference, Doha 2001
Articles posted by Global Policy Forum on the WTO Doha Agreement and 2001 conference. This link includes reactions by NGOs, journalists, and other critics.



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