CANCUN–On the eve of the fifth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference scheduled for September 10 to 14–representatives of Socialist International (SI) member parties throughout the world–along with trade union leaders–gathered in Cancn to exchange views on Conference themes.
Emphasizing their commitment to reforming the international trading system–participants agreed that the WTO must respond to the needs and expectations of the global majority who live in developing countries.
They also agreed that the WTO must act immediately and boldly to change the rules of agricultural trade by eliminating subsidies and opening markets to developing country exports; in effect–go to the heart of alleviating world poverty and improving the lives of millions in developing countries.
Considering the opening of markets to non-agricultural products–participants emphasized the need to consider each country’s level of development–the degree of economic diversification–and the time required to adjust to open markets.
On the question of Singapore issues (formulated at the first WTO Ministerial conference in Singapore in 1996)–covering investment rules–competition policy–transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation–participants determined that the interests of developing and developed countries must converge–with a serious commitment to provide development aid and technical assistance to developing countries.
Participants iterated the position of the SI for greater cooperation between the WTO and UN bodies–and the need to give priority to employment–social conditions–human and labor rights–and the environment.
An Armenian delegation headed by the Minister of Trade and Economic development Karen Jshmaritian–will for the first time–partake in a WTO conference as a full-fledge member. Armenia gained membership approval by WTO member states in December 2002.
The meeting reaffirmed SI’s commitment to make the global economy work for all–and the its belief that trade can present new opportunities to unite people–lessen inequality–and strengthen solidarity for a more just world–and called on the upcoming WTO Conference to become a turning point in achieving the international cooperation necessary to reach these goals.