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WTO NEWS: 2002 PRESS RELEASES

Press/295
20 May 2002
WTO to announce schedule for disbanding

After a protracted and detailed review of current trade policy and its
effects on developing countries, the World Trade Organization has
decided to effect a cessation of all operations, to be accomplished
over a period of several months. The WTO will eventually
reintegrate as a new trade body whose charter will be to ensure
that trade benefits the poor.

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At a specified future date, agreements reached under the WTO will be suspended pending ratification by the new organization, tentatively referred to as the Trade Regulation Organization. Many existing agreements are likely to be re-ratified, but each will be subject to individual review for compliance with the TRO's charter, which is based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The restructuring has come in response to numerous studies indicating that current trade liberalisation rules and policies have led to increased poverty and inequality, and have eroded democratic principles, with a disproportionately large effect on the poorest countries.

Under the restructuring, the GATS agreement will be scrapped entirely, and a new agreement regulating services will be forged after an assessment of the effects of past services liberalisation, and when there has been adequate opportunity for governments and civil society to analyse and debate new proposals.

In addition, all aspects of TRIPS, TRIMS, AoA, and other agreements will be reviewed with humanitarian and other considerations in mind, and will be progressively replaced with corresponding versions under the TRO.

Proposals and resolutions for the foundation of the TRO will be evaluated beginning in June according to their likelihood of furthering the TRO charter. Specifically this will mean redressing the imbalances of existing trade agreements; providing access for developing countries to developed countriesĺ markets; assessing the effects past trade liberalization and redressing problems where possible; and developing an enforceable framework for special and differential treatment guaranteeing that development policies are not undermined by trade agreements.

The immediate necessity, besides fixing core problems, will be to build a new regime of trust among members (notably between HIC and LDC members), with civil society organizations (NGOs), and with members of the public. The core goal is to establish rules whose priority is to benefit the poor, improve the environment, and strengthen democratic principles--in a pragmatic and immediate rather than theoretical and longterm sense.

In order to provide greater access to the Least Developed Countries who will most benefit from the existence of the TRO, the organisation's headquarters will be moved from their current location in Geneva to the capital of one of the LDCs. Proposals for final location are currently being solicited.

The restructuring will proceed according to the following schedule:

Phase I Final deadline for binding resolutions
Phase II Initial principles
Phase III Comments and emendations to initial principles
Phase IV Final determinations of principles
Phase V Restructuring complete

CONTACT US : World Trade Organization, rue de Lausanne 154, CH-1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland