Explore the BBC
Today Programme Report - Text Only Version
BBC Radio 4
Print This Page

Back to HTML version

Wednesday 10th September 2003

Clare Short at the WTO

Former International Development Secretary Clare Short has travelled to the World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Intimately involved in the negotiations leading up to the event,she'll provide a unique perspective on the discussions taking place and the resolutions reached.

She'll be regularly filing reports for Today and you can listen back to them by clicking on the links in the right-hand column of this page.

Clare Short's Hopes For Smaller Nations:

"I and my old department ... were clear that poverty could not be reduced without improved economic growth in poor countries and this required better trading opportunities. Rich countries can negotiate trade agreements using their own muscle, but poor countries need a world organisation which reaches agreement by consensus within which they can unite to demand fair rewards."

"In Doha two years ago, an agenda for a development round was agreed. Since then developing countries (who make up two-thirds of the membership of the World Trade Organisation) have been coming together to try to ensure that the agenda agreed at Doha is delivered."

"The biggest issue facing the Cancun meeting is agriculture, where massive subsidies and high tariffs undermine the economies of developing countries. This poses a big challenge to the European Union and requires substantial reform of the Common Agricultural Policy."

"This week will be tense. There will be complicated negotiations, as well as bluster and grandstanding. Agreement is not inevitable, but it is possible."

Clare Short On Protests:

"Since the violent demonstrations at the Seattle meeting of the WTO in 1999, we've seen angry and often violent demonstrations at many international meetings and the WTO is a particular focus of this anger. But it isn't always clear what the demonstrators want."

"I have always seen the WTO as THE organisation that could deliver fairer trade rules and I've often been very frustrated by the negativity of NGO campaigning."

Hear Clare talk with Cafod and other NGOs by clicking on the 11/09/03 audio link in the right-hand column.

The WTO Director-General:

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, told Clare Short that there would be serious consequences for poorer countries if the negotiations at Cancun failed to deliver.

"In general terms the costs would be high, because all of these countries may have to resort to more of the so-called Free Trade Agreements, that would be done on a bilateral basis," he predicted. He added that failure at the talks would mean "less credibility for this organisation".

Read Clare Short's latest report from Cancun filed for our website (15/09/03).

The BBC is not responsible for external websites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy