The meeting is at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center

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3rd WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
Top 10 Reasons to Oppose the World Trade Organization?
Criticism, yes … misinformation, no!

More incorrect facts about the WTO found on websites:    
 

9. ‘The WTO undermines national sovereignty’

 
The accusation

“By creating a supranational court system that has the power to economically sanction countries to force them to comply with its rulings, the WTO has essentially replaced national governments with an unelected, unaccountable corporate-backed government [1]. For the past nine years, the European Union has banned beef raised with artificial growth hormones. The WTO recently ruled that this public health law is a barrier to trade and should be abolished. The EU has to rollback its ban or pay stiff penalties [2]. Under the WTO, governments can no longer act in the public interest [3].

 

The reality

1. The WTO dispute settlement system’s rulings are based on agreements that all parties in a dispute have agreed to.

The sanctions are not imposed by the WTO, but by the country winning the case. The sanctions imposed on the EU were imposed voluntarily by the elected national government of the United States, within WTO rules and procedures. The case was not initiated by the WTO (the WTO does not have the power to do that) but by the US and Canadian governments.

(In fact, the US first imposed $100 million in annual sanctions against the EU for the beef-hormone ban in 1989, six years before the WTO came into being.)

2. The WTO did not say the law should be abolished. The ruling said the ban (not the law) violated WTO agreements which the EU itself negotiated and signed. The EU had the option of providing sufficient evidence of health risk to support the ban, or removing the ban. It chose to supply the evidence, but within the agreed time-limit it was unable to do so and US sanctions were imposed. The EU still says it will supply the evidence. Meanwhile, the ban has not been lifted. No one has been forced to do anything.

3. This is completely false. The agreements include countless provisions allowing governments to take public interest into account.

The agreements are also the result of negotiations in which all governments pursued what they saw as the interests of their public. If their view of public interest changes, they are completely free to seek to amend the agreements. That has already happened in eight successive trade rounds under GATT, with the ninth approaching after the Seattle Ministerial Conference.

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The accusations

1. The WTO only serves the interests of multinational corporations
2. 
The WTO is a stacked court
3. 
The WTO tramples over labor and human rights
4. 
The WTO is destroying the environment
5. 
The WTO is killing people
6. 
The US adoption of the WTO was undemocratic
7. 
The WTO undermines local development and penalizes poor countries
8. 
The WTO is increasing inequality
9. The WTO undermines national sovereignty
10. 
The tide is turning against free trade and the WTO!

Find out more

In the booklet, Seattle: What’s at stake?
Concerns … and responses (1)
Concerns … and responses (2)

On the main WTO website
10 Common Misunderstandings about the WTO

 


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