Who Killed Cancun Democracy And Domestic Interests, Says US NGO

New Delhi, Nov 10: | Updated: Nov 11 2003, 05:30am hrs
The World Trade Organisations (WTO) fifth ministerial meet in Cancun, Mexico, was not killed by any particular country. It was democracy and every members focus on protecting domestic interests which killed the talks, felt William J Antholis, director of studies and senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund, a US-based non-government research organisation.

Speaking at a round-table on who killed Cancun, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Monday, Dr Antholis said that while many countries and groups seemed to have a motive behind making the Cancun talks fail, each had an alibi as well.

While the G-20 coalition on agriculture of developing countries kept insisting that their demands be recognised, they could not be accused of making the talks fail as they had a lot to gain from the talks going further, Dr Antholis said.

The least developed countries (LDCs) led by the African group, who ostensibly were responsible for making the talks fail because of their inflexible stand on the Singapore issues, too, were not the real culprits. If we think that the LDCs made the talks fail, it would be overstating the ability of small countries, Dr Antholis said.

While the EU may have blood on its hands for trying to protect farm subsidies of which a lot goes to big farming companies, Dr Antholis said that EU trade commissioner did his bit to save the talks during the negotiations.

Defending the US trade representative Robert Zoellick, Dr Antholis said that while the country had given wrong signals by passing the farm Bill 2002 and raising steel tariffs, Mr Zoellick firmly believed that trade would deliver more for poor countries than any development package and wanted the talks to succeed.

Dr Antholis conclusion was that it was democracy and every countrys urge to protect domestic interests, which led to the failure. He said that the post-September 11 urge of the US and the EU to cooperate for global economic growth to fight terrorism was waning. This should be restored.

He added that big developing economies like India and Brazil should allow a two-tier system in WTO where special and differential treatment for poor countries should be different from what was given to them.

Developed countries should also work on re-shaping subsidies in the short and medium term so that small farmers were protected while farming companies were not, Dr Antholis said.