Greetings To Everyone From The WTO Meeting And Social Movements Resistance.

Original Publication Date: 
9 September, 2003
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UPDATE ON AGRICULTURE ISSUES
September 10, 2003, Cancun, Mexico

Greetings to everyone from the WTO meeting and social movements resistance.

In an important development, yesterday the G-21 countries met yesterday to strengthen their alliance on the key issue of agriculture within the WTO. The group, including India, China, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, Venezuela, among others, with Egypt just joining up, came together to consolidate their insistence that the text of the G-21, and not the text of the Chair nor the text of the EU-US nor Japan, be the basis for negotiations in agriculture.

However, there seemed to be a few weak links in the chain, which need to be strengthened by concerted effort from civil society to hold their negotiators and national representatives accountable. In particular, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Chile, did not express the same strength of commitment to opposing the rich countries´agenda and instead following their own national interests together with those of the other developing countries. Pressure is needed to remind negotiators in those countries that they should stand firm in solidarity with the developing countries bloc instead of allying with the US.

The Group also met immediately before their own meeting with US Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick. This was a short-lived meeting, however. According to some people who attended the meeting, Zoellick presented the US view of the importance of using the Chair's text as the basis for negotiations, a point of view which met much resistance within the group. At one point he accused the developing countries of trying to foment a crisis within the negotiations in Cancun by unreasonably insisting on their own text as the basis for negotiations instead of agreeing to the Chair's, which closely resembles that of the US-EU. In a shocking development, Zoellick then completely lost his composure, stated that the meeting was over, and stormed out of the room. This is surprising, as Zoellick is well known for maintaining his cool even in the most difficult of situations.

One negotiator commented on the importance of the meetings. Although many of the developing countries that form the G-21 have very different interests, yet have come together in a strong alliance because the issue of agriculture is essential to all of them. It has effectively destroyed the political alliance of the Cairns group, according to one negotiator. And, if the text of the G-21 is not accepted as the basis for negotiations, the developing countries in the group, which represent 50% of the world population, will not agree to concessions on any other issue.

Today is the large peasant march, and it is hoped that representatives from the countries that could be in danger of switching alliances at the last minute, ie, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Mexico, could use the opportunity of the focus on agriculture to hold their representatives accountable.

Deborah James
Global Exchange

52.998.897.3444 in Cancun

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Deborah James, Global Economy Director
Global Exchange
415.575.5537 direct line
415.255.7296 x245
415.255.7498 fax
2017 Mission Street #303, San Francisco, CA 94110
http://www.globalexchange.org

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