Food Security, Fisherfolk Livelihoods, Taxing Big Tech, and Multilateralism Itself Hang in the Balance at WTO Ministerial

20 February 2024

Online Press Conference With Civil Society and Academic Experts on the Stakes for MC13

With the February 26-29 13th WTO Ministerial just days away, civil society and academic experts from around the world share what’s at stake at this biggest WTO meeting in years. Main items on the agenda include the long-running fisheries subsidies negotiations, agriculture rules for food security and a set of development proposals that developing countries have been fighting for since the WTO’s inception. Developed countries, boosted by the Secretariat, have also put on the agenda a series of illegitimate plurilateral “Joint Statement Initiatives (JSIs)” that would further entrench corporate power in the areas of investment facilitation, domestic regulation, Big Tech-friendly e-commerce, and now using “environment”. With the WTO in crisis for several years now, overshadowing all these discussions is the question of “WTO reform,” which rich countries are pushing as a secretive means to repeal the fundamental WTO principles of multilateralism and consensus.

Speakers and Issues:

  • Deborah James, Director of International Programs at Center for Economic and Policy Research and Facilitator of Our World Is Not for Sale global network, USA, on WTO process and history
  • Kinda Mohamadieh, Senior Researcher & Legal Advisor with Third World Network, Lebanon, on rich country efforts to undermine special and differential treatment and the negotiations on the Ministerial Declaration
  • Jane Kelsey, Professor Emeritus at University of Auckland, New Zealand, on the Joint Statement Initiatives and WTO’s lack of democracy
  • Abhijit Das, independent WTO expert, India on the so-called “environmental” JSIs
  • Sofia Scasserra, Researcher with the TransNational Institute, Argentina on the e-commerce moratorium
  • Adam Wolfenden, Campaigner with Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), Pacific Islands, on fisheries subsidies negotiations
  • Ranja Sengupta, Senior Researcher with Third World Network, India, on agriculture and food security
  • Africa Kiiza, Africa Trade Network, on concerns specific to Africa.
Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) is a global network of NGOs and social movements working for a sustainable, socially just, and democratic multilateral trading system.