Statement to BWI Dialogue on Trade

FfD Forum 2019

Statement to “Special High-level Meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development” on behalf of Civil Society FfD Group (including the Women’s Working Group on FfD)

Delivered by Deborah James, Our World Is Not for Sale

16 April 2019

Thank you, your excellencies, delegates, my name is Deborah James and I am from Our World Is Not for Sale global network of CSOs working on the WTO –  I’ll be referring to the earlier panel. The issue of WTO reform includes an attempt to take away from developing countries, the right to use the very policy tools that developed countries used in their own development. But the solution to the attacks on “globalism” is not to give in to nationalism; it is to rebirth a new multilateralism, such as detailed in this incredible new document co-published by UNCTAD, “A New Multilateralism for Shared Prosperity: Geneva Principles for a Global Green New Deal.” Discussions should focus on: achieving the SDGs, including removing rules in the WTO that constrain countries achieving domestic food security; delivering on the development agenda; allowing developing countries more flexibilities for their own industrial development and job creation. 

And now the biggest corporations in the world and the governments that represent them are launching another misguided expansion of the WTO, disguised as “e-commerce for development.” But these proposed digital trade rules are actually about rewriting the rules of the digital economy of the future, to allow monopolistic corporations to further capture and exploit the most valuable resource of the world, data, for free, while limiting governments’ ability to regulate digital trade; really, a new digital colonialism. Developing countries must have the right to use their data for their own development, and thus the emphasis should be on promoting digital industrialization for inclusive and shared prosperity. As Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz recently said, referring to the digital behemoths, “there should be no international agreement until there is a greater clarity about how to regulate them.” And I have a letter here signed by 315 organizations from other 90 countries urging countries to abandon the push for binding pro-corporate rules on digital trade in the WTO and instead focus on a pro-development agenda, available on www.ourworldisnotforsale.net. Thank you for your kind attention.

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