Monday, November 30, 2009

The WTO meets in Geneva

The World Trade Organization always seems to bring trouble wherever it goes. This time the streets of Geneva had protests that local police had to clear away with tear gas.

The protesters opinions on why they hate the WTO are as varied as the nations that represent it. Some protest the inaction of the WTO, while others blame the WTO on making things even more unequal between the rich and the poor.

The WTO trade ministers will meet now through Wednesday. They plan to talk about the steep drop in world trade that has happened along with the global economic recession.

From this Associated Press article that we found at Newsday, writer Bradley S. Klapper summarises what is on the WTO agenda this week.

As the World Trade Organization started its first ministerial conference in four years, a familiar debate was taking place among ministers and Cabinet members from over 100 countries. They are scheduled through Wednesday to discuss efforts to stabilize and rejuvenate commerce in the face of increased protectionism, unemployment and exporting of jobs.

Security was high near the Geneva conference venue, after police over the weekend fired tear gas and rubber bullets at violent demonstrators who burned cars and broke shop windows in the city center. Geneva police arrested 14 people.

Much more serious clashes have occurred at previous meetings of trade chiefs, but the coming session lacks the specific goals of conferences that sought to conclude or advance a new global trade deal. The last so-called ministerial — a summit gathering all member countries' trade representatives — was held in Hong Kong in 2005, and came after contentious gatherings in Cancun, Mexico, two years earlier and Seattle in 1999.

The WTO called the meeting of its 153 members to examine major issues at a time when global exports are falling at the fastest rate since the Great Depression and the organization's long-sought Doha liberalization round is limping into its ninth year.

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