Free trade means the wealthy want it free

‘Business as usual,’ says Sue (who researched this post.)

Just over two years ago, the Kenyan trade minister walked out of the World Trade Organisation’s fifth ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

Claiming that he and other delegates from poor nations were being bullied into signing up to an agreement that would have a disastrous effect on development in their countries, he declared that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal.’

In October this year, a mere two months before the sixth WTO ministerial in Hong Kong, a member of the current Kenyan trade delegation was using depressingly similar language.

‘Why should we sign up to something that doesn’t benefit us in any way?’ he asked Christian Aid at a pre-summit session in Geneva.  ‘If there is nothing of interest to us on the table why should we open up any more of our markets or services?’

It was not supposed to be like this.  Rich countries, shocked by the collapse of the Cancun talks, had designated this as the ‘development round’ of trade talks in which poorer countries would at last reap some of the benefits of the free-trade agenda flowing out of Washington and Brussels.  …

Spending time in Geneva, talking to representatives of developing nations, the truth became clear:  rich countries are about to derail another ministerial meeting by trying to force through a series of unacceptable demands.

– Christian Aid News, Winter 2005 Issue 30. (article not on the web)

More from Christian Aid from a few months back on the WTO talks.

Poor nations’ concerns ‘will be ignored‘ by World Trade Organisation

Servicing the rich: How the EU will wreck the WTO talks (pdf)