IBON Int’l blasts WTO Bali deal, calls for global fight vs new neoliberal offensive

Posted on 8 December 2013
Media Release, 8 December 2013
IBON International Director Antonio Tujan Jr. today condemned the new trade deal finalized at the recently concluded 9th World Trade Organization ministerial in Bali, Indonesia, as a license for a renewed neoliberal offensive against developing countries.
“The global powers are congratulating themselves in celebration. They say WTO is back in business after 12 years of failed ministerials. But this so-called ‘breakthrough in Bali’ heralds more pain for the people and the planet,” the head of IBON International said.
Tujan, who attended the talks together with other IBON members as part of a sizeable civil society delegation, said the Bali deal contained at least three highly insupportable provisions that passed despite stubborn resistance from developing countries and civil society.
“First, the Bali agriculture package sells out the right of people and of whole countries to food because, among other things, it imposes constraints on government grain subsidies that developing countries must have to ensure food stockholding programs,” Tujan said.
“This is totally against the principle of food sovereignty, which the world’s farmers and food rights advocates have long been fighting for,” he added. 
The second contested item, Tujan said, was the package of special rules long demanded by least-developed countries (LDCs) that might have softened the worst WTO impacts on their disadvantaged trade position. “The LDC package mostly contains only empty promises,” he said. 
Third, the over-hyped deal on Trade Facilitation will simply mean that developing countries, whose fragile industries and agriculture are already reeling from the impacts of unequal trade, will further be weakened by the accelerated deluge of goods and services from developed countries, he explained.
Tujan also called the new WTO agreement a “midnight deal,” for having been finalized in two consecutive overnight meetings among delegations and heads of delegations on Friday and Saturday, amidst what civil society representatives protested as undemocratic ways of forcing consensus hiding behind inclusiveness and multilateralism.
At the start of the Bali ministerial, some member-countries and civil society groups had pinned their hopes on a Group of 33 (G33) set of counter-proposals to give teeth to their efforts to turn the negotiations in favor of poor countries and affected sectors such as farmers.
India at first declared that its food security was non-negotiable in its objections to an agriculture provision that would conflict with its new food security bill. Cuba meanwhile insisted that a reference to the decades-long US trade embargo be retained. Together with Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, it also questioned serious imbalances in the Bali package. At the last minute, India and the Latin American bloc softened their positions.
Tujan noted that the deadlocks were resolved not through developing countries gaining substantial compromises from developed countries but by merely tweaking the language of the final declaration. “It would be naive for the world’s people to rely on the heroics of a handful of government ministers within the halls of a WTO summit,” he added.
“It is also naive to think that Bali unlocks the Doha Development
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