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Symposium on issues confronting the world trading system
summary reports by the moderators

6 and 7 July, World Trade Organization, Geneva, Switzerland  

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Saturday, 7 July

V: WTO & Civil Society

Moderator: Dr. Sylvia Ostry — University of Toronto

WTO institutional building

The WTO Secretariat was viewed as not being totally neutral and was seen to be acting incorrectly by canvassing for a new round. Strong concerns were raised about the transparency and inclusiveness of the WTO decision-making process. These concerns reflect the marginalization which certain developing countries feel in the WTO and which is partly related to their problems of capacity.

Three other key issues were debated:

One view was that :

(i) A fundamental transformation is required of the WTO - the present WTO cannot be compared with the old GATT system. WTO's intrusion into domestic policy domain raises fundamental questions about the objectives of the institution.

The other view expressed was that:

(ii) The institution is flawed in several ways but it is by and large functioning to serve the varied interests of its Members. The best way to approach these flaws is through incremental change.

(iii) The work session started a discussion on how to deal with the above two views of the WTO but it was not concluded. Sylvia Ostry took the initiative of asking the participants if they wanted to continue their discussion. The majority said yes. Sylvia Ostry will independently explore how participants to the session can continue their dialogue.



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