Global civil society groups called on the G 20 governments to reject further discussion on WTO negotiations, in the meeting of the G20 in Mexico in June 2012

Due date: 
17 June, 2012
Delivery date: 
21 June, 2012

June 17, 2012 Dear Representatives of the G20 Governments, We are writing to urge you to reject discussing the further liberalization of trade in the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, in the upcoming meeting of the G20 in Mexico.

First, the WTO negotiations should not be on the agenda at the G20, given that the G20 does not represent the much broader membership (155 members) of the WTO. Past efforts within the G20 to gain consensus on a new agenda for the WTO, such as at the G20 Trade Ministers’ meeting on 19-20 April, ended with serious disagreement even among the members of the G20, as voiced by India, Brazil, South Africa, and other G20 members at the WTO General Council meeting of 1-2 May. In addition, many WTO members who were not present at the G20 meeting voiced similar displeasure with the inclusion of the WTO on the G20 agenda at the same General Council session. The G20 does not have legitimacy to decide the future of global trade governance since only a forum which includes all members, regardless of their economic power, can legitimately make decisions on major issues pertaining to the future of WTO negotiations.

Second, the WTO negotiations should not be on the agenda at the G20, given that the proposals put forward by the G20, such as that of the “new trade narrative” on global supply chains, thus far evidence a clear attempt to use the forum to multi-lateralize an agenda at the WTO heavily favoring the interests of developed countries, and more particularly of powerful corporations based in developed countries, rather than the interests of sustainable and inclusive development. Any negotiations in the WTO should instead address the pressing agenda of fixing existing rules in order to provide governments with more policy tools with which to address the global food, jobs, and financial crises. Global civil society has put forward a positive agenda, WTO Turnaround: Food, Jobs, and Sustainable Development First!, which details the various specific changes in agricultural, tariff, and services regulation policies, among others, that should be the core agenda of future multilateral trade negotiations.

Third, any discussions on trade issues within the G20 should abandon the monitoring of alleged “protectionism,” which all too often serves as a thin veil for criticism of the policy space used by developing countries to deal with the global crises. Instead, they should focus on how the G20 can best ensure that a global economic recovery will ensure prosperity for all, including through trade and investment policies that prioritize decent job creation, food security, and global financial stability rather than just focusing on increasing trade and investment.

Fourth, given that economic governance organizations which are very heavily weighted towards the interests of developed countries, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, are provided with ample mechanisms for participation at the G20, we demand that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) be given a larger role in future meetings of the G20. A stronger role for UNCTAD within global economic fora such as the G20 would be an important first step towards ensuring a greater focus on the needs of the world’s people, rather than the narrow interests of the global elite.

Working together through the Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) global network, we demand international dialogue among governments, including through the G20, that promotes a positive, public interest agenda for sustainable development, job creation, true food security, and global financial stability.


Agribusiness Action Initiatives – Asia/Pacific

Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL),Philippines

Alternative Information & Development Centre – South Africa

Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) - Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, and Sri Lanka

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)

Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS) – India

Bia´lii, Asesoría e Investigación, A.C – Mexico

Citizens Trade Campaign – United States

Comisión Nacional de Enlace – Costa Rica

Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS) – Philippines

Council of Canadians

Fairwatch – Italy

Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (FOCO) – Argentina

IDEALS, Philippines

Indonesia for Global Justice

National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS)

Norwegian Trade Campaign

Rede Brasileira Pela Integração dos Povos (REBRIP),

Brazil Rural Urban Peoples' Linkages – RUPeL Philippines

Polaris Institute – Canada

Public Citizen – United States

Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI)

WEED - World Economy, Ecology & Development Association – Germany

Worldview – The Gambia