Global trade must serve the interests of sustainable development

2 December, 2009

Trade Unions in the Americas urge governments and trade negotiators gathered in Geneva to fulfill the commitments of the Global Jobs Pact
Victor Baez*

The trade union organizations affiliated to the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) have been closely following the Doha Round negotiations since they were reactivated in 2007. The trade union movement remains mobilized before the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva.

We reiterate to governments that the actual crisis is a dramatic confirmation of how the focus on policies based on deregulation, trade liberalization and economic financialization has lead to the worsening of serious structural unbalances, injustice in terms of distribution of wealth and a profound unemployment crisis in our countries.

At this time, we cannot forget the importance of ILO's Global Jobs Pact. This Pact conveys a different look at public policies, to which our governments must demonstrate greater political commitment to implementing them. The goal is to find an effective way out of the crisis based on the recovering of decent work, income levels and social security coverage.
For this reason, we urge governments and trade negotiators in Geneva to reevaluate the Doha Round talks, as well as the regional and bilateral plans that may be discussed at this moment in time. It is necessary to analyze their impact on the employment crisis and the already jeopardized policy space that developing nations have. Trade must contribute to sustainable development.

This is why we agree with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) when it states that “the time has come for the WTO  to join other institutions integrating the multilateral system and recognize the need to invite the ILO to participate fully in its working groups, in the groups' negotiations, in committees and to integrate in all WTO programs and negotiations a focus on development that is based on the Decent Work Program including Fundamental Labour Norms".

As it has been pointed out in 2008 by the Declaration on Social Justice for Fair Globalization, “As trade and financial market policies both affect employment, it is the ILO’s role to evaluate those employment effects to achieve its aim of placing employment at the heart of economic policies”.

Trade union organizations consider that having indicators of impact would stimulate the debate and pressure for effective anticyclical measures to address the global crisis – not only those aiming to compensate for its effects. TUCA reiterates to governments and trade negotiators that the Doha Round must be guided by the Development Programme established in 2001.
*Víctor Báez Mosqueira is the Secretary General of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), organization which represents over 50 million workers in 29 countries in the region.