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Global trade: look at the facts rather than heed corporate lobbying

Published in the Financial Times: November 15 2005 02:00 | Last updated: November 15 2005 02:00

From 142 civil society organisations.

Sir, We, the undersigned organisations, represent tens of millions of workers and farmers, landless and unemployed, human rights and environment campaigners, students and women from all corners of the earth.

We are writing in response to the letter signed by the CEOs and chairmen of the world's "leading corporations" in which they urge WTO member governments to conclude the Doha round of negotiations "on time." ("Last and best chance to move Doha to a successful conclusion", November 8)

Although we have no illusions about why the corporations are so eager to see the round concluded, their argument that trade liberalisation is a "strong driving force for global economic growth, job creation and wider consumer choice" is utterly misleading.

Their first claim about growth is questionable. A recent report from the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), compares average growth rates in 175 countries between 1960-1979 and 1980 - 2000, divided into five groups according to their per capita income at the start of each period. In the top four groups, average growth rates fell by more than half, from averages of 2.5 to 3 per cent in 1960-1979 to averages of .75 to 1.25 per cent in 1980-2000. Only the group with the lowest per capita GDP showed a tiny increase, from 1.7 to 1.8 per cent, even though it includes fast growing China and India. ("The Scorecard on Development: 26 years of Diminished Progress", CEPR, September 2005,

Figures from the ILO tell the same story: the mean world GDP per capita growth fell from 3.5 per cent in 1961 to just one per cent in 2003. ("A fair globalisation", World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation, ILO, 2004)

Latin America shows the most dramatic reversal of fortunes: between 1960 and 1979 the region grew by more than 80 per cent, however by 1980-2000 this has dwindled to just 11 percent. This is the worst economic performance in modern Latin American history, even including the Great Depression. Although the world's "leading corporations" argue that further trade liberalisation would reverse this trend, the reality is that during the past 25 years Latin America has undertaken across-the-board and unilateral liberalisation of goods and services, in addition to wholesale privatisation, under the guidance of more than 80 International Monetary Fund programmes.

In contrast, 1980-2000 was a period of accelerated trade liberalisation and the average contribution of trade to GDP went from 40 per cent to almost 60 per cent (ILO, 2004). There does not appear to be a strong correlation between growth and increased trade flows.

Second, they claim that trade liberalisation will lead to job creation. Again, if we look at the research, between 1990 and 2002, unemployment increased in 7 out of 9 regions. In Southeast Asia unemployment almost doubled from 3.6 per cent in 1990 to 6.5 per cent in 2002. Latin America showed a similar increase in the same period. Even in East Asia, which includes China, unemployment grew by 30 per cent. (ILO, p. 41) These regions are all experiencing high population growth, so the absolute number of unemployed is growing at an even faster rate. And although the world's top 200 companies account for one quarter of world economic activity, they employ less than one per cent of the global workforce. (Institute of Policy Studies, December 2000)

We realise that the WTO and trade liberalisation has been good for the corporate bottom-line, but before asserting extravagant claims for the benefits of trade liberalisation, the chief executive officers of the world's leading corporations should look at the research. Otherwise, they risk being charged with distorting facts in pursuit of their own interests.

In the run-up to Hong Kong, trade negotiators in Geneva would be well-advised to look at the facts rather than listening to the corporate lobby.


Action Aid International - Ramesh Singh, Chief Executive
Alternative Information and Development Centre (South Africa)Dot Keet, Coordinator
Christian Aid - Charles Abugre, Head of Policy
Ecumenical Advocacy AllianceLinda Hardtke, Coordinator
Focus on the Global South - Walden Bello, Director
Friends of the Earth International - Meenakshi Raman, Chair
Greenpeace International - Jean-Luc Roux, Head of Political and Business Unit
Hemispheric Social Alliance (the Americas)Gonzalo Berron, Coordinator
National Fishworker's Forum (India) Harekrishna Debnathm, Chairperson
International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations (IUF) - Ron Oswald, General Secretary
Jubilee South - Lidy B. Nacpil, International Coordinator
Public Service International - Hans Engleberts, General Secretary
Rede Brasileira pela Integracao dos Povos (Brazil)Fatima Mello, Coordinator
Via Campesina (International Peasants Federation) - Henry Saragih, International Coordinator
Women's International Coalition for Economic Justice - Carol Barton, Coordinator

A. T. M.  Zaffullah Chowdury (Dr), Project Coordinator, Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Bangladesh
Allejandro Villamar, General Council Member, Mexican Action Network on Free Trade, Mexico
Ana Maria Nemenzo, President, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines
Andrew de Sousa, National Organizer, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), USA
Annelies Allain, Coordinator, International Code Documentation Centre-IBFAN, Malaysia
Annick Coupe, General Secretary, Union Syndicale Solidaires, France
Anselmo Lee, Executive Director, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Thailand
Antonio Tricarico, CRBM/Tradewach, Italy
Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, The Oakland Institute, USA
Arze Glipo, Integrated Rural Development Foundation, Philippines
Badrul Alam, President, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh
Badrul Arup Rahee, LOKOJ Institute, Bangladesh
Benjamin Castello, Chairperson, Coalition Jubilee 2000, Angola
Beth Burrows, President/Director, Edmonds Institute, USA
Bonnie Setiawan, Executive Director, Institute for Global Justice, Indonesia
C.P. Chandrasekhar, Managing Trustee, Economic Research Foundation, India
Carlos Ruiz, Attac Spain, Spain
Carmen Blanco Valer, Ordförande/Presidenta, UBV/Latinamerika, Sweden
Carol Barton,Coordinator, Women's International Coalition for Economic Justice, USA
Carol Bergin, Founder, Initiative Colibri, Germany
Cecilia Olivet, Transnational Institute, Uruguay
Chan Beng Seng, Executive Director, Documentation for Action Groups in Asia, Hong Kong
Charles Abugre, Head of Policy, Christian Aid, UK
Christian Felber, Co-founder, ATTAC Austria, Austria
Clare Nolan, NGO representative, Sisters of the Good Shepherd
D L O Mendis, Secretary/Convenor, Sri Lanka Pugwash Group, Sri Lanka
D Roy Laifungbam (Dr), Director, Centre for Organisation Research & Education (CORE), India
Damian Sullivan, International Liaison Officer, Friends of the Earth, Australia
Dan Gallin, Chair, Global Labour Institute, Switzerland
David Kane, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, USA
Deepa Bharathi, Committee for Asian Women, Thailand
Dembe Moussa Dembele, African Forum on Alternatives, Senegal
Dennis Arnold, International Coordinator, Thai Labour Campaign, Thailand
Dennis Brutus, (Professor), Patron, Jubilee South Africa; Boardmember, Center for Economic Justice, South Africa
Devinder Sharma, Director, Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security, India
Dot Keet, Alternative Information and Development Center (AIDC), South Africa
Doug Hellinger, Executive Director, The Development GAP, USA
Dra. Rita Schwentesius Rindermann, Coordinadora de la Red de Mercados y Tianguis Orgánicos de México, México
Elaine Zuckerman, President, Gender Action, USA
Eva-Britt Svensson, Member of the European Parliament for the United Left Group, (GUE/NGL), Sweden
Farhad Jahanmahan, WTO Coordinator, ATTAC, Sweden
Fatima Mello, coordinator, Rede Brasileira pela Integracao dos Povos (REBRIP), Brazil
Ferran Garcia, Veterinarios Sin Fronteras, Spain
Fiona Dove, Director, Transnational Institute, Netherlands
Fr Frank Nally, Missionary Society of St Columban, London
Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary, Education International
Gérard Choplin, Coordinator, European Farmers Coordination, Belgium
Giampiero Alhadeff, Secretary General, Solidar, Belgium
Giles Ji Ungpakorn (Associate Prof.), Workers' Democracy, Thailand
Golden Munyaka, President, Poverty Forum, USA
Gonzalo Berron, coordinator, Hemispheric Social Alliance, the Americas
Greg Asbed, Co-Director, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, USA
Greg Mclean, Assistant National Secretary, Australian Services Union, Australia
Gunn Olander, Leader, KFO (Norwegian Confederation of Municipal Employees), Norway
Guy Taylor, Globalise Resistance, UK
Hans Engelberts, General Secretary, Public Service International, France
Hans Engleberts, General Secretary, Public Service International
Harekrishna Debnathm, Chairperson, National Fishworkers' Forum (NFF), India
Herman Kumara, Convener, Fisheries Solidarity, Sri Lanka
Igbal, Headchief of Gema Prodem, Medan, North Sumatera, Indonesia
Jane Kelsey (Professor), Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA NZ)
Jean-Luc Roux, Head of Political and Business Unit, Greenpeace International
Jeff Powell, Coordinator, The Bretton Woods Project, UK
John Furman, President, Central New York Citizens in Action, USA
John Stewart, Director, Nonviolent Action and Strategies for Social Change, Zimbabwe
Jonas Sjöstedt, Member of the European Parliament for the United Left Group (GUE/NGL), Sweden
Joseph F. Purugganan, Coordinator, Stop the New Round! Coalition, Philippines
Josu Egireun, Executive Committee, ESK trade union, Basque Country
K Balasubramaniam (Dr), Co-ordinator, Health Action International Asia, Sri Lanka
K. Ashok Rao, Secretary General National, Confederation of Officers Associations, India
Kalyanee Shah, President, SEWA, Nepal
Lamin Camara, Board Member, Lend A Hand Society, the Gambia
Larry Brown, National Secretary Treasurer, National Union of Public and General Employees, Canada
Lena Bröckl, Coordination Committee Member, ATTAC Germany, Germany
Lidy B. Nacpil, International Coordinator, Jubilee South
Liina Carr, International Secretary, Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions, Estonia
Linda Hartke, Coordinator, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Switzerland
Linus Jayathilake, President, United Federation of Labor, Sri Lanka
Louise Richards, Chief Executive, War on Want, UK
M.C. George (Dr), national trustee, Infam (Indian farmers movement), India
Mahfuz Ullah, Secretary General, Centre for Sustainable Development, Bangladesh
Malgorzata Swiatek, Board Member, ATTAC Poland, Poland
Maria Luisa Mendonça, Co-Director, Social Network for Justice and Human Rights, Brazil
Marianne Hochuli, Director, The Berne Declaration, Switzerland
Mark Ritchie, President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA
Matthias Reichl, Spokesperson, Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence, Austria
Matyas Benyik, President, ATTAC Hungary, Hungary
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, The Council for Canadians, Canada
Meagen Baldwin, Executive Director, WIDE, Belgium
Meenakshi Raman, Chair, Friends of the Earth International
Melissa Moore, Program Coordinator, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, US
Mohiuddin Ahmad, Chairperson, Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)
Muhammad Hilaluddin, Chief Director, Angikar Bangladesh Foundation, Bangladesh
Myriam Vander Stichele, Centre for Research on Multinationals, The Netherlands
Neil Kearney, General Secretary, International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation, Belgium
Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director, Grassroots International, USA
Nizam Assaf (Dr), Director, Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, Jordan
Njoki Njoroge Njehu, Executive Director, Solidarity Africa Network in Action, Kenya
Noy Prasittiporn Kan-On-Sri, Assembly of The Poor, Thailand
Nur Amalia, National Facilitator, Indonesian Peoples Forum (IPF), Indonesia
Olivier Hoedeman, CEO, Corporate Europe Observatory, The Netherlands
Oono Kazuoki, Chief of Working Committee of No-to-WTO Coalition, Japan
Padma Pushpakanthi, Convener, Savistri Women's Network, Sri Lanka
Paul Dupret, Advisor on trade to the European Parliament, United Left Group (GUE/NGL), Belgium
Peter Fuchs, Trade & Investment Campaigner, World Economy, Ecology & Development, Germany
Peter Hardstaff, Head of Policy, World Development Movement, UK
Peter Lavina, Councilor, Mindanao Workers Against Globalization, Philippines
Peter Rossett, Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA), Center for the Study of Change in the Mexican Countryside (CECCAM), Mexico
Prem Dangal, Secretary General, All Nepal Peasants' Association, Nepal
Ramesh Singh, Chief Executive, Action Aid International, South Africa
Ranee Hassarungsee, Secretary, Social Agenda Working Group (Social Watch), Thailand
Raquel D Castillo, National Coordinator, E-Net Philippines, Philippines
Ritu Dewan (Professor) Department of Economics, University of Mumbai, India
Ron Oswald, General Secretary, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF), Switzerland
Rosemary Viswanath, Chief Functionary, EQUATIONS, India
Sam Vuthy, Womyns Agenda for Change, Cambodia
Sana Das, World Dignity Forum, India
Sanjai Bhatt (Professor) Social Work, University of Delhi, India
Sarath Fernando, Moderator, Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform, Sri Lanka
Séamus P. Finn OMI, Missionary Oblates, Justice/Peace & Integrity of Creation, USA
Sean McDonagh, author, 'To Care for the Earth', USA
Sigeya Kihara, Chairperson, Globalization Watch Hiroshima, Japan
Smitu Kothari, Director, Intercultural Resources, India
Sudyumna Dahal, Secretary General, Associations of Youth Organisations, Nepal
Sunila Abeysekera, Executive Director, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
Syed Saiful Haque, Welfare Association of Repatriated Bangladeshi Employees, Bangladesh
Thomas Kocherry, Executive Committee Member, National Fishworkers' Forum, India
Thomas Wallgren, Chair, Network Institute for Global Democratisation, Finland & Peru
Tissa De Silva, Chairman, Peoples Policy Institute, Sri Lanka
Titi Soentoro, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Thailand
Tony Clarke, President, Polaris Institute, Canada
Tracey Wheatley, Protect the Future, Hungary
Vicent Garces, President, Centro de Estudios Rurales y de Agricultura Internacional, Spain
Vita de Waal, Executive Director, Foundation for Gaia, UK
Walden Bello (Dr), Executive Director, Focus on the Global South, Thailand
Wallace Ryan Kuroiwa, Minister and Team leader, United Church of Christ, USA
William Gois, Regional Coordinator, Migrant Forum in Asia, Philippines
Yanuar Nugroho, Executive Director, The Business Watch Indonesia, Indonesia
Yoko Akimoto, Secretariat Member, ATTAC Japan
Yoshihide Kanno, Chairperson, Asian Farmers Exchange Center, Japan
Zakir Kibria, Director, Bangla Praxis, Bangladesh
Zeki Ergas, Executive Secretary, Millennium Solidarity Geneva Group, Switzerland


Last and best chance to move Doha round to a successful conclusion
By Jean-Rene Fourtou and Marcus Wallenberg
Financial Times November 8 2005 02:00

Sir, We the undersigned are chief executive officers/chairmen of some of the world's leading corporations. We have supported the Doha round of trade negotiations since its inception and many of us have given advice on its substance to our governments. At the initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), we are writing to member governments of the World Trade Organisation to convey our mounting concern that these crucial negotiations are in serious trouble. The original date agreed at Doha for completion of the negotiations has been missed; and the continuing snail's pace of progress is jeopardising the prospect of meeting the revised deadline of end-2006.

We strongly believe that the WTO-based multilateral trading system is one of the central pillars of international co-operation. Multilateral initiatives to liberalise world trade and improve market access for goods and services are a strong driving force for global economic growth, job creation, and wider consumer choice - as well as keeping in check the ever-present threat of protectionism. We underline our conviction that a successful Doha round is vital to enable business to continue to play a leading role in the eradication of poverty and the raising of global living standards.

An important milestone is looming that may very well be decisive in determining the ultimate fate of the Doha round. In the middle of next month, WTO member governments will be meeting in Hong Kong for their ministerial conference - the WTO's supreme decision-making body. Pascal Lamy, WTO director-general, has emphasised that Hong Kong will not be just another checkpoint in the negotiations; "it is our last and best chance to move this round to a successful conclusion by the end of 2006".

We agree with Mr Lamy that much will be at stake in Hong Kong. Up to now, however, we do not see that urgency reflected in a firm determination by governments to make the solid, substantive progress before Hong Kong that will be essential to enable the
ministerial conference to propel the negotiations to a successful outcome a year later. And we know from experience that ministerial meetings left with too many decisions to take at the last moment usually break up in disappointment or failure.

We therefore call upon WTO governments to redouble their efforts to break out of the current impasse in the Doha negotiations and accomplish the various breakthroughs still required to make Hong Kong a defining moment in a positive sense. We believe that the challenge is political more than technical, and requires the commitment of governments from the highest levels to break the logjams. It particularly requires the personal attention of the leaders of the WTO governments represented at the Group of Eight Gleneagles summit last July who pledged themselves to work for the success of the round. The need is for strong political leadership. And the time for it is now!

Given the slow progress to date, it will be an uphill task to conclude the Doha round on time. But it is by no means mission impossible. Success will be within reach if the political will is found to make the compromises in the few months ahead that recognise the common interest in success and the collective price of failure. Business across the world urges WTO member governments to face up to their responsibilities and re-instil confidence among producers, consumers and investors that the multilateral trading system - which has done so much to raise global living standards over the past half- century - is still safe in their hands.

Charles Holliday, Chairman and Chief Executive, Du Pont, US
Jan du Plessis, Chairman, British American Tobacco, UK
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman and Chief Executive, Nestle, Switzerland
Andrew N. Liveris, Chief Executive, The Dow Chemical Company, US

Henry A. McKinnell, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive, Pfizer Inc, US
Gerard Mestrallet, President Directeur General, Suez, France
Mikio Sasaki, Chairman of the Board, Mitsubishi Corp, Japan
Plus 54 more...