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Swiss NGOs call on WTO to reassess trade liberalisation

Four non-governmental groups in Switzerland called on the World Trade Organisation, the world’s trop trade watchdog, on Thursday to reassess and redefine current reform policies before launching the new “millenium round” of trade reforms.

This content was published on August 12, 1999 - 15:56

Four non-governmental groups in Switzerland called on the World Trade Organisation, the world’s trop trade watchdog, on Thursday to reassess and redefine current reform policies before launching the new “millenium round” of trade reforms.

The call for a reassessment was presented at a news conference in Berne and involved the Berne Declaration, which describes itself as an independent association for development politics, Pro Natura, the Swiss Consumers Association and the Swiss Farmers Association.

The NGOs said the Geneva-based WTO should first become more democratic in its decision making process and rethink the effects of its policies before launching the new round of trade liberalisation talks at a summit in the United States in November.

Echoing U.S. demands for further opening markets in goods, services and agriculture, Swiss Economics Minister Pascal Couchepin last month underlined the need to foster more cooperation in trade, finance and environmental protection.

The NGO’s main demands for the WTO are:

-- Improve the integration of developing nations in world trade and protect people’s social rights.

-- Make sure that agriculture is not only seen as an industry but also as a business that is of social importance in many developing nations.

-- Set up guidelines to protect the environment.

-- Make the WTO a more democratic body. The organisation must explain why and how it reaches its decisions on world trade.

The NGOs said that their demands were widely backed by the Swiss population.

Referring to an opinion poll, the organisations said that 62 percent of those questioned wanted to see a pause and reassessment of current world trade reforms.

Over 90 percent also believe that citizens’ political rights as well as the environmental impact of trade liberalisation must be considered by the WTO.


From staff and wire reports.

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