Trade: From Doha to Cancún
The negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas and of the World Trade Organization continue – and winning more and more criticism from the anti-globalization activists, who denounce the risk of creating more misery and environmental degradation as they prepare for the 3rd World Social Forum to take place in January 2003.
The world movement against neoliberal economic globalization remained active throughout 2002. In November, activists from various regions turned the Andean city of Quito, Ecuador, into a bastion against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), timed to coincide with a meeting of trade ministers from the Western Hemisphere.
Encouraged by the rumblings world society against free trade, the anti-globalization movement underscores the risk that the FTAA, which would create a market of 800 million consumers, would create even greater misery and further environmental deterioration across Latin America.
In spite of widespread rejection, the FTAA talks continue at a good pace, as to the negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both processes, which could define important factors that would have an impact on the region’s sustainable development, are to produce tangible treaties by January 2005.
And the governments are taking on the task: in Quito, the ministers approved the second draft of the FTAA, while the WTO adjusted its agenda for the next ministerial meeting, to take place in Cancún, Mexico, in 2003.
Although the talks on the elimination of agricultural subsidies, one of the main demands of the Latin Americans, could be frozen next year, both sides are expected to make a lot of noise.
The World Social Forum, a confluence of the civil society activist who oppose the neoliberal underpinnings of the global economy, is meeting for the third time in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre Jan 23-28. This year’s gathering will take place in a “different” Brazil, which, as of Jan 1, will be led by President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, a leftist and a fervent opponent to the FTAA, which he says does not respect Latin America’s interests.