Socialist International at the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference, Cancún

10-14 September 2003

On the eve of the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference taking place on 10-14 September 2003, representatives of Socialist International member parties from different regions of the world gathered in Cancún for a meeting that also included leaders of trade unions to exchange views on the themes to be addressed at the Conference.

The participants underlined their commitment to the essential goal of reforming the international trading system, and emphasised that the WTO must respond to the needs and expectations of the global majority who live in the world's developing countries.

Those at the gathering agreed that the WTO must now act boldly to change the rules of agricultural trade through the elimination of subsidies and the opening up of markets to farm exports from the developing world. This would create new possibilities for achieving progress on the other issues on the agenda of the Conference, and would go to the heart of alleviating world poverty and improving the lives of millions in developing countries.

With regard to the opening of markets to non-agricultural products, the participants pointed out the need to take into consideration in each country the level of development, the degree of economic diversification and the time required to adjust to open markets.

On the question of the so-called Singapore issues - investment rules, competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation - the participants considered that there must be a convergence of interest between developing and developed countries and a serious commitment to providing development aid and technical assistance to developing countries.

Participants reiterated the position of the Socialist International in favour of greater cooperation between the WTO and other UN bodies, and underlined the need to give priority to employment, social conditions, human and labour rights, and the environment.

The meeting reaffirmed the commitment of the Socialist International to making the global economy work for everyone and its belief that trade can open up new opportunities for bringing people together, lessening inequality and strengthening solidarity for a more just world, and calls on the Conference in Cancún to be a turning point in achieving the international cooperation necessary to reach these goals.

9 September 2003



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