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Swiss position at WTO comes under fire

Criticism of WTO graphic: Oct 2000

(swissinfo.ch)

Switzerland's policies at the World Trade Organisation have come under attack from a coalition of groups pressing for fairer world trade terms.

"The state secretariat for economic affairs, which is responsible for WTO policies, lacks clarity of vision and has not learned the lessons of the Seattle debacle."

That is the view of the Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations, which presented its arguments at a news conference in Berne on Thursday.

The director of the coalition, Peter Niggli, said the government was calling for a further liberalisation of world trade to suit the interests of big business.

He said it was not only the rules of world trade that favoured rich nations, but the structures of the Geneva-based WTO itself, which were responsible for inequalities.

"The real problems lie in the deficiencies and the unilateral nature of the WT0's own rules," said Niggli.

He said they harmed the countries with the weakest economies, and offered no protection against the negative social and environmental consequences of liberalised markets.

The coalition, which comprises development aid, environmental and trade union organisations, has put forward its own demands for the next round of world trade talks.

The group opposes the further dismantling of public service organisations and the further liberalisation of agriculture.

swissinfo with agencies


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