Cancun: Why Should You Care?
1st June, 2003
School dinners by McDonald’s. Corporations taking countries to court because their environmental regulations are ‘too tough’. The BBC sold to Rupert Murdoch. Paul Kingsnorth explains why we should be very worried by what is about to go on behind the closed doors of Cancun.
Half the point of the World Trade Organisation is that hardly anybody understands it. Its founding documents are hundreds of pages long, its committees and subcommittees proliferate endlessly, its language is obtuse, and the end result is that anyone who doesn’t work there, study it for a living or have several years of hard graft as a trade lawyer behind them has a lot of trouble working out what the hell is going on. Modalities. Appelate bodies. Singapore issues. Built-in agendas. Single undertakings. Got it? No? Good.
Conveniently, this has meant that for the entire eight years of its existence most of us have had a hard time working out what effect the WTO’s corporate-led agreements will actually have on our lives – at least until it’s too late. And there’s no reason this should change now. Thus it is that when we try to find out what decisions are actually likely to be made at the WTO’s upcoming ministerial conference at Cancun – and what difference they are likely to make in the real world – the answer can seem as hard to fathom as the outcome of the WTO’s recent ruling on ‘anti-dumping duties on corrosion-resistant carbon-steel flat products from...
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