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WTO Melbourne Analysis

by GUARDIAN Charlotte Denny and Patrick Barkham Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2000 at 3:30 AM

After Melbourne, the next stops on the travel itinerary of the global summit protesters are the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Prague later this month. In public they are putting a brave face on things, but in private the world's top trade negotiators admit that the chances of a new round of trade negotiations starting by the end of the year have shrunk to zero.


Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 07:01

Subject: [StopWTORound] fwd: "Melbourne experience suggests years of delay for new trade round"

>GUARDIAN (London) Tuesday September 12, 2000


>by Charlotte Denny and Patrick Barkham in Sydney


>Swift descent into violence at the Crown casino


>This was supposed to be three days of high-powered talks

>bringing together in Melbourne some of biggest names of the

>Asian-Pacific region. Instead, the World Economic Forum

>descended into Seattle-style violence as anti-capitalist

>demonstrators clashed with police.


>The success of demonstrations last November in scuppering vital

>trade talks has given new life to the protesters - many of whom

>had rallied to the anti-capitalist cause via websites which sprung

>up from the demonstrations against the World Trade Organisation

>in Seattle.


>At least eight people were taken to hospital, including two


>officers, as protesters tried to prevent delegates entering the Crown

>casino. Police reported that there were 1,500 demonstrators,

>although the organisers claimed nearer 10,000.


>Western Australia's right-wing prime minister, Richard Court,

>was stranded in his vehicle for 20 minutes as protesters daubed

>it with paint and let down the tyres, while Aboriginal activists

>"arrested" Mr Court for supporting mandatory sentencing, which

>leads to the jailing of people in Australia for petty crime.


>Mr Court was forced to turn back after 50 baton-charging

>police officers failed to dislodge the protesters' barricades. Chosen

>for its secluded riverside site, the casino and other probable

>targets of anti-globalisation feeling nearby had been heavily

>fortified against the protesters.


>What is worse for the organisers of the conference is that


>demonstrations slowed the WEF's registration programme and

>reduced the number attending speeches and dinners on the

>first day of the conference, as up to 200 delegates stayed


>their hotel rooms. Observers inside the building reported some of

>the events were only 50% full.




>After Melbourne, the next stops on the travel itinerary of the


>summit protesters are the annual meetings of the World Bank

>and International Monetary Fund in Prague later this month. In

>public they are putting a brave face on things, but in private the

>world's top trade negotiators admit that the chances of a new

>round of trade negotiations starting by the end of the year have

>shrunk to zero.


>Diplomats from the 139 members of the World Trade

>Organisation had hoped that the collapse of attempts to

>launch a new round last December would prove a temporary

>setback. Now they are blaming the US presidential elections for

>the delay, noting that any substantial negotiations are

>impossible until the political make-up of the new administration is



>Next year, the world's most populous country, China, joins the

>Gneva ased body, which will tip the balance of power


>the rganisation away from the "Quad" - Japan, Canada, the US and

>he EU - who ave traditionally managed the global trading system

>and in the past rovided political impetus for new talks.


>As a price of joining, China is opening large parts of its industry


>ompetition from foreign firms, which is expected to cause

>disruption throughout its economy. Beijing will not be

>enthusiastic about starting another set of talks to open further

>markets until it has digested the fallout.


>Privately, Quad policymakers admit that there is no political

>momentum for a new round, and that the trade agenda is bogged

>down in Geneva bureaucracy. Senior trade policymakers are

>now whispering that the organisation's rambunctious New Zealand

>head, Mike Moore may be a lame duck who will never see a trade

>round launched under his watch.


>Indeed, time is running out for Moore who has only two more

>years at the helm of the WTO. The political fudge which

>shoehorned him into the job means he has a shorter than usual

>term, split with his rival, the Thai finance minister, Dr Supachai

>Panitchpakdi. Moore was the US's first choice and Supachai

>made himself so unpopular with US negotiators during the

>selection process, that some insiders doubt he will be able to

>muster sufficient support from the world's biggest trading nation to

>launch a round during his term of office which ends in 2005.




>Assuming Supachai's successor manages to get a trade round

>launched with a year of taking office, past experience suggests it

>will take five or six years to conclude. That suggests the


>that the next round of talks will be signed off will be around 2012-

>13 - a gap of almost 20 years since the end of the Uruguay round

>and the longest gap between trade rounds since the founding of

>the WTO's predecessor 50 years ago.


>The strains of running the global trading system without


>negotiations are showing. Relations between the world's

>biggest trading blocs, the EU and the US, are increasingly

>fractious, with the two seemingly unable to solve arguments over

>hormone treated beef, Caribbean bananas and Washington's

>billion dollar export subsidies to US multinationals.


>Any day now, the US will publish the latest list of EU goods it is

>targeting for sanctions under long running disputes over bananas

>and hormone treated beef. The US has been authorised to apply

>0m of sanctions by the WTO because the EU's ban on beef

>and import regime favouring Caribbean bananas contravene global

>trading rules. But America's decision to rotate the list it targets


>been described by EU negotiators as pouring fuel on the fire as it

>creates uncertainty for a greater group of producers. Battles behind

>the scenes between the world's trading powers are as heated as

>the fights outside their summits - and the protesters' anti-trade

>agenda appears to be getting the upper hand.




>In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is

>distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior

>interest in receiving the included information for research and

>educational purposes.


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