Further Industrial Tariff Liberalisation Through the WTO

01 July 2005
Article

This Excerpt is taken from a longer report "Further Industrial Tariff Liberalisation Through the WTO: Tactical and Strategic Challenges facing South Africa and the rest of Africa in the 'Non-Agricultural Market Access' (NAMA) Negotiations in the WTO" and is available in hard copy from Alternative information and Development Centre (AIDC), Cape Town.


The WTO is one of the most important international institutions today because it has enormous enforcement powers, and constantly holds the potential threat of trade sanctions overall WTO member governments in relation to many issues and areas of activity. These areas extend well beyond trade to include other economic, environmental, cultural and social policy areas which affect peoples lives and rights throughout the world. NAMA, (the Non-Agricultural Market Access Negotiations) is the latest and most comprehensive offensive of the WTO, which aims at further and extensive tariff liberalization in all countries throughout the world and will erode the possibilities of industrialization for many developing countries.

In this Excerpt, the author identifies the major challenges facing the Southern African social movements and the Southern African governments in relation to NAMA.

1. African Governments' Joint Positions on NAMA -Strategic Challenges and questions

Despite the gradual evolution and some evident progress in the positions being taken by African governments in the WTO and on NAMA (Non - Agricultural Market Access Negotiations), there are a number of important questions and strategic challenges to be presented to African governments by African analysts and activists:

1.1 The first is that, while stressing the vital importance of defending their current industrial entities/capacities and future industrial development potential, few if any African countries actually have clear national industrial development and diversification programs, let alone such programs located within democratically created and (substantially) internally generated, comprehensive and coherent national development strategies. This is particularly significant within the NAMA negotiations in terms of African countries' capacities to identify and defend both their current and their future needs in these directions.

1. 2 In this regard, too, although the impact assessments on the implications of NAMA with respect to the above are both substantively essential and tactically useful, as defensive measures, it is not clear whether the African governments are using their repeated demands for impact assessments only as an information and planning need, or also as a stalling device. Or whether they anticipate that the findings of such analyses will be so conclusive as to challenge the fundamental assumptions of NAMA and stop it in its tracks.

1. 3 If the latter is the goal and intention, then it is vitally important who, or what institutions, will actually carry out such 'impact assessments' since these can, of course, yield very different conclusions depending on the theoretical assumptions informing the analysis and the questions asked. Thus, in this connection too, it is important that the technical and financial assistance - that African governments, separately and together, are constantly asking for - be undertaken by independent, reliable organisations and entities that do not operate within the neo-liberal paradigm dominating the WTO and the global economy today. If not, such impact assessments could simply serve to reinforce and justify NAMA liberalisation aims and claims.

1. 4 The same questions arise with regard to the demand by the African governments that all the extremely restrictive tariff barriers and other non-tariff barriers (NTBs) that they face in their international trade must be taken on board in the NAMA negotiations. The question, once again, is whether the African governments see this demand as a real aid to their better trade possibilities and future prospects for their countries, or whether they are (also) using this demand as another defensive issue and a tactical bargaining device in the NAMA negotiations.

1. 5 With regard to better trade prospects for African countries, and their perennial plea for 'improved market access' into the rich developed countries, the more important question is whether African governments see the need to base their national strategies on correcting and countering the dangers of the excessive external trade dependence of their economies. And the other side of this question is whether their strategies in NAMA are, therefore, informed by the more fundamental aim of defending and improving their domestic productive capacities per se rather than simply increasing their external trade. Contrary to the necessary production-oriented needs of African countries, NAMA promises to increase their external trade flows, and dependence, but at the same time will decrease or imperil their internally rooted productive capacities.

1. 6 Many of the presentations in the NAMA debates by African countries, in general, and the LDCs in particular, raise these issues in various ways and degrees. However, the challenge to all these governments is that - however correct their arguments are, however morally justified their proposals, however articulate their requests and demands may be - in the final analysis, effectiveness in WTO negotiations is not based solely, or even mainly, on persuasive arguments and powerful evidence. At bottom, positive advances or success in the WTO depends on skillful negotiating interventions based on effective focused issues-based coalitions and broader cross-sectoral alliances in order to shift the balances of power between the weak(er) and the strong(er) countries [3.7 below].

1. 7 Negotiations in the WTO, as elsewhere, depend fundamentally on questions of pressure and power, especially by the majors, overt or covert, direct or indirect, legitimate or illegitimate. The challenge to African governments is whether they have learned the strategic lesson from their recent positive experience in the WTO Ministerial in Cancún; specifically in the broad alliance they formed with the ACP and LDC groups as the Group of Ninety (G90). Through the G90 alliance they had a presence, confidence and combined power that was 'greater than the sum of the parts'. This alliance and their firm unity enabled them to defend their agreed (albeit quite moderate) positions and interests, and contributed to blocking the agendas of the major powers in that notorious meeting. The G90 countries need to sustain, build on and further extend their achievements from that experience.

1. 8 However, the major powers do not give up easily, and they are now using every conceivable device to divide and undermine whatever alliances and agreements that the African and other developing countries may have formed, or are aiming to form in the WTO, including in the NAMA negotiations [see also section 8.5]. The more specific challenge therefore facing the African governments towards building such embracing alliances is whether or how they can use as their base, and maintain, African unity in the face of diversionary tactics and underhand pressures by the very powerful and well-resourced, and politically skillful governments (and ruthless corporations) of the highly industrialised countries.

1. 9 In this context, it is evident that there are specific sub-groupings of African governments, led by some of the politically better equipped and experienced or determined amongst them, that play leading roles in formulating joint African positions (as above). Many of the economically weaker or politically compliant African governments make only formal commitments to joint African positions and declarations, and they are often easily drawn away from the united African stands. However, the opposite challenge is also a problem. This is whether or how African countries can ensure that the rather more economically advanced amongst them, with apparently differing approaches, above all South Africa, can be persuaded to actively support and promote the combined African positions on NAMA, as on much else in the WTO, and elsewhere.

These questions pose significant challenges not only to all African governments but to all trade and development NGOs, trade union and other workers organisations, fisher peoples organisations, forest and environmental networks, and other social movement analysts and activists in Africa, and particularly in South Africa.

2. Some questions and strategic challenges to the South African government

These misconceived trade and tariff liberalisation polices have caused significant damages within the SA economy, resulting in the retrenchment of hundreds of thousands of industrial sector workers and contributing to national unemployment rates that are unprecedented anywhere else in the world. The radical extension of such policies within South Africa could have further and even more damaging effects within this country and elsewhere in Africa. Thus it is essential that trade union, NGO and broader social movement analysts and activists within SA - and throughout Africa - pose some important questions to the South African government as to the perceptions and strategic aims driving SA's engagements on NAMA and in the WTO.

2. 1 The first very basic question is whether South Africa has 'no choice' but to implement the tariff policies that it inherited in 1994, or whether there are, in fact, possibilities within the rules and regulations of GATT and the WTO that could, in principle, enable SA to alter or reduce its current heavy commitments. But, of course, even if such possibilities are identified, the challenge would be how South Africa could contribute towards building the necessary impetus towards this within the WTO, and that would require wide developing country agreement and effective alliances in this direction [see also section 3.7 below].

2. 2 The broader problem, however, is that not only the specific tariff liberalisation policies but also the wider economic policies implemented by the SA government since 1994, have been based on the neo-liberal paradigm of 'export-led growth'. On the one hand, this orientation requires domestic 'adjustments' - such as downward pressures on workers' wages - in order to make national producers/exporters 'more internationally competitive'. On the other hand, this orientation has also led the government to focus on getting better trade access into other countries, and more recently into the larger developing country markets in the South. Such "offensive" trade aims are being pursued through various bilateral and regional free trade agreements, as well as through the multilateral liberalisation terms of NAMA. There are, of course, problems with all such FTAs. However, the greater problem is that utilising NAMA's extensive and extreme multilateral terms to this end will, in turn, also facilitate the further penetration of SA's own markets by exporters and producers from all the more developed countries both in the North and the South. This will be disproportionately more costly to SA than the anticipated trade gains for exporters from this country. The challenge is whether this is 'a price worth paying' and a necessary 'cost to be born' by the SA economy and the people of South Africa.

2. 3 The directly related problem is that, even under existing rates of liberalisation in SA, such penetration by 'more competitive' international producers and exporters into the SA economy have already had drastic effects on domestic production in various sectors, and in the very survival of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Yet South African negotiators on NAMA support the increase of the so-called "discipline of multilateral rules" within the SA economy . This is based on neo-liberal assumptions about the necessity to 'open up' the SA economy supposedly in order to 'stimulate' its domestic companies to 'rise to the challenges' of competitive global corporations. The real effects of such neo-liberal assumptions have to be exposed and opposed. But, the urgent challenge to the SA government, is that, in spite of the already manifest negative effects and critical questions being raised within this country about these policies, such neo-liberal arguments and policies are still being promoted through South African interventions in the NAMA negotiations and through the WTO more generally.

2. 4 There are encouraging indications within the SA government of a growing interest in the highly effective state-led development strategies that have been created and utilised by more industrialised and rapidly industrialising developing countries (especially in East and South East Asia) and that have not been based on simple market-led globalisation programs and sweeping trade and investment liberalisation. The challenge, however, is that, even if the SA government were to be committed to developing its own appropriate state-led strategies and internally generated national programs for industrial development and diversification, these would be severely complicated and actively countered by the type of NAMA trade liberalisation terms that SA trade negotiators are currently pursuing in the WTO, and that could be clinched in the Hong Kong WTO ministerial at the end of 2005. Hence, future alternative national industrial strategies would be contradicted and even pre-empted by international commitments already made in the WTO unless the SA government acts now to prevent this.

2. 5 Thus, within the perspective of possible alternative state-led industrialisation and economic diversification strategies in SA, the broad external challenge facing the SA government is how it can resist and stop the latest liberalisation thrusts by the developed countries within the WTO in the manufacturing, mining, fisheries and forestry sectors (NAMA), as well as in services (GATS) and much else. The overall political challenge for South African analysts and activists within trade unions, labour and development NGOs, fisher peoples alliances, environmental organisations and others, in alliance with broader organised social forces, is to convince the SA government to::

  • create appropriate sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies and inclusive multi-stakeholder alliances within this country, and on the basis of genuine, wide-ranging popular consultation and active engagement on these issues [see also section 4.4 below]; but also to
  • create equivalent cross-sectoral strategies within the WTO, and appropriate developing country tactical alliances in Geneva, and elsewhere, in order to ensure that governments do not lose their 'policy space' and political rights to pursue such alternative domestic development policies as they and their people decide [see section 3.2 below].

2. 6 But the problem does not relate only to alternative domestic economic programs. NAMA-type liberalisation in other Southern African countries will also impact directly on the prospects for state-led regional industrial development and economic diversification cooperation programs and integration within SADC and the other sub-regions of Africa. Thus SA government has to go beyond mere formal endorsement of African decisions on NAMA and other issues in the WTO. South Africa should actively take on board the substantive economic implications and tactical potential of the positions in the WTO and on NAMA being adopted by the other African governments …. and energetically carry them forward. This is not only a question of African economic cooperation and political solidarity, important as these are, but also because the African - and ACP - positions are also in SA's own interests. Like the rest of Africa, this country has vulnerable domestic industries that will - in the event of NAMA going ahead - be pressured by more competitive international exporters, or undermined and ousted through the unfettered penetration and further domination of its economy by stronger global producers. This is an area for more concerted cooperation between trade union and other civil society organisations within SADC and throughout Africa in order to get all African governments to coordinate their responses and actively cooperate against the dangers posed by NAMA [see 3 .4 below].

2. 7 And the even broader international responsibility for SA popular organisations is to convince the SA government to move away from its current cautious and accommodating role in the WTO, and become a much more proactive and cooperative partner with other developing countries on NAMA, as well as on other issues. This potential is evident in South Africa's participation in the very effective Group of Twenty (G20) confronting the EU and the US and other developed countries on their unjust and damaging agricultural policies. It is equally and more important that SA be even more proactive on issues affecting its much larger manufacturing, mining, forestry, fisheries, services and other sectors. In its own interests and those of other developing countries in Africa and more widely, South Africa must contribute much more than it currently does towards other joint developing country resistance in the WTO, as elsewhere. This is widely expected of South Africa by both governmental and non-governmental organisations which frequently express themselves as disappointed and perplexed at the positions taken by this country in the WTO hitherto.

3. Challenges and Strategic Options for the Developing Countries

There is a further set of questions and strategic challenges that face the broad spread of developing country governments in relation to NAMA, and the WTO more broadly. And these challenges, of course, apply also to the governments and peoples of South Africa and the rest of Africa, over and above the specific questions and challenges outlined above.

3.1 The first question is whether the developing country members of the WTO see themselves as being engaged in mere trade negotiations, including typical wheeling-and-dealing, pragmatic trade-offs and compromise agreements; and, in this context, whether their focus has to be on the technical details, the legal terms and the bargaining opportunities. The alternative view is that the engagements in the various negotiation sessions and many other meetings in the WTO must also be used, and more fundamentally, as political, theoretical and ideological battles to challenge the neo-liberal paradigm and entirely change the very terms of the debate and the content of any possible future agreements in the WTO.

3. 2 The related question, is whether the developing country members of the WTO see their interventions and proposals in the negotiations as being designed to gain more time, and certain leeways and 'policy spaces' for themselves in terms of their countries' needs and aims. Multilateral agreements and the rules of the WTO have been used, since 1995, not only to regulate international trade but to intrude into the domestic policy terrain of governments and peoples on production, services, environmental, social and cultural issues, and much else, within their own societies. The counter view is that the political rights of governments (and the democratic rights of peoples) in relation to their own internal policy choices must be defended and (re)asserted, and the very notion of having to bargain for 'spaces' within which to decide internal national policies must be firmly challenged and changed (back) into the inalienable right that it must be.

3. 3 The further question is whether those developing country governments putting forward or supporting various 'formulas' or 'coefficients' - to modify or mitigate the effects of the tariff liberalisation purpose of NAMA - see their formulas as serving damage limitation purposes, and designed to reduce or slow down inevitable tariff reductions and unavoidable policy 'harmonisation' etc. The more proactive interpretation is that such formulas (as that of the Caribbean group) should not be simply about alleviating the negative effects but, rather, made so comprehensive as to effectively negate the WTO's liberalisation intentions and totally block the damaging impact of NAMA on the many smaller and weaker developing countries. However, it would be insufficient if this aim were to be applied only to some members of the WTO.

3. 4 The more proactive challenge would be for these and similar proposals to be taken up, extended and defended by a much wider coalition of developing countries to the extent that they could, together, qualitatively and totally transform the terms, content and the direction of the negotiations on NAMA. In this, the larger and/or relatively stronger developing countries need the numerical weight of all the developing countries in the WTO, plus the moral claims of those countries most prejudiced by neo-liberal globalisation. Through such a broad alliance and the tabling of comprehensive development conditionalities in the negotiations, NAMA would be rendered ineffectual for the purposes of its promoters. The most important question, therefore, is whether the various multiple and multifaceted formulas being put forward by individual/groups of developing countries are designed to 'improve' NAMA, 'reduce' its negative effects, or to make it inoperable and definitively stop it in its tracks altogether.

3. 5 The directly related challenge is, of course, how to gain wide enough acceptance and create united support amongst the developing countries in the WTO for such an essential strategic aim. The problem is that the majors and their allies have enormous capacities to undermine developing country alliances either by arm-twisting or winning over more susceptible individual governments. But this can also take the form of them drawing even the stronger and larger developing country governments into their divisive plots (as with Brazil and India in the FIPs). The challenge to all such targeted governments (including South Africa) is to be very wary of being used by the majors to provide a cover of legitimacy to problematic processes and agreements. But, if such larger developing country governments do agree, tactically, to participate in selective meetings and to act apart from their developing country allies, this should only be after due consultation and, if possible, with appropriate mandates. SA with its strong democratic traditions could play an important role in this. More generally, this problem also requires concerted actions by all developing county members of the WTO to challenge and change the untransparent , undemocratic, selective and exclusionary methods of operation of the WTO.

3.6 The converse danger arises from the developed countries using political blackmail upon the governments of the larger and/or more economically advanced developing countries on their 'moral obligations' to undertake NAMA liberalisation in order to provide trade openings in their markets for the smaller or economically weaker developing countries. This opportunistic argument from the ranks of the developed countries is also expressed in terms of the contribution of NAMA liberalisation towards 'encouraging more South-South trade'. The response has to be that NAMA, and the WTO's liberalisation paradigm in general, is not the appropriate framework for the promotion of more, and more equitable, South-South trade. This can and will be far better served through the expansion of the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) for developing countries promoted through UNCTAD, or through optional bilateral preferential trade agreements and other economic cooperation initiatives amongst developing countries themselves and outside of the WTO altogether.

3.7 This will not be simple and will depend on far-sighted strategies and political determination amongst the governments of the developing countries. In the meantime, even creating greater cooperation in the WTO within the broad band of developing countries is extremely difficult, given their wide economic - and political - differences, and narrowly focused pursuit of short-term national trade interests by many of them. However, even if some of the larger and/or more advanced developing countries feel that they must pursue their own specific 'national interests', the broadest possible developing country cooperation is essential, and possible, on the basis of the specific issues or interests that they do have in common and in the context of the domination of them all by the most powerful countries [see Appendix A]. That such tactical alliances can be created on specific issues and at important junctures has been demonstrated through the role of the G20 in the WTO, and in the mutual recognition and support between the G20 and the G33 countries on their respective agricultural concerns and demands in relation to the highly industrialised countries' agricultural policies and the WTO's agreements on agriculture, subsidies and so on. The same issue-based tactical coalitions and/or tactical alliances of mutually-supportive developing country (sub)groupings are now called for on NAMA as well . This will not be easy but it is essential if the less powerful and less developed countries of the world are ever to deal effectively with the dominance of them all - and the whole world - by the alliances or tactical cooperation between the larger, richer and/or more powerful countries/governments/corporations.

3. 8As an extension of their own tactical negotiation cooperation on common interests and inter-connected demands, developing countries could also make cross-linkages between the various negotiations going on in the current round of negotiations. This is already expressed by individual countries, such as Brazil, in terms of setting cross-conditionalities between its demands and responses on the agricultural, the services (GATS) and the industrial (NAMA) negotiations going on concurrently. It is, of course, highly risky to make positions in one negotiation directly conditional on possible concessions or progress in another, as all negotiations and positions are important in and of themselves. Thus, the possibilities within various scenarios and the many possible permutations within and between simultaneous negotiations have to be carefully weighed up by each country in order to ensure that their negotiation positions on each area reinforce the others, and don't undermine them. This is equally important between countries. But if these inter-connections or linkages are located within a conscious, coherent and comprehensive strategy, based on tactical agreements between the governments concerned, each negotiation can be used to reinforce the aims of the others and the overall strategy.

3. 9 With regard to the overall strategic aims of the developing countries in the current WTO Doha Round, and the forthcoming ministerial conference in Hong Kong, the major challenge is whether these governments regard some sort of compromise 'deal' from the Hong Kong meeting as being inevitable - or even essential. Or whether they are prepared to stand their ground on each and every agreement under negotiation. And if, as a result of their determined stand(s) on their key identified interests, yet another WTO ministerial fails, the developing countries must not to be apologetic or allow themselves to be brow-beaten about this by the majors and their media agents. The developing countries must rather welcome the impasse and continue to utilise the gains made. Each 'failed' ministerial is part of the ongoing process of incrementally shifting the balance of power within the WTO between the developed and the developing country governments, between the North and the South in general, and between rich and poor countries and peoples globally.

4. Tactical and Strategic Perspectives for Peoples' Organisations

For some years already there have been various developmental and anti-neoliberal organisations in many African countries that have been targeting the WTO and the roles of African governments there. Most of these are national-based organisations. But there are also regional networks, such as the Southern and East African Trade Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), focused specifically on trade issues, and the Southern African Trade Union Coordination (SATUCC) increasingly including trade in its focus. There are internationally linked organisations, such as Third World Network-Africa with a strong focus on trade and the WTO in particular. Above all, there is the very wide continental trade and development network, the Africa Trade Network (ATN), bringing together economic justice, social, environmental, human rights and other organisations and networks, anti-neoliberal research and economic policy institutes and NGOs, trade unions and other labour organisations, womens', peasant and small farmers' organisations, fisher peoples' groups, and many others.

As these national, regional and continental organisations and networks expand and deepen their engagements on economic issues, in general, and on the WTO in particular, they face a range of important tactical and strategic challenges, and political and organisational demands.

4.1 Some of these organisations, particularly anti-neoliberal research and policy institutes, engage in providing detailed policy analysis and technical support to African government trade officials. Such advice and 'capacity building' has played a significant role in countering the dominant influence of the WTO, the IMF/WB and other neo-liberal institutions on African policy-makers. The counter-influence from independent non-neoliberal research organisations is evident in the gradually changing and improving positions of African governments in the WTO. However, this is not a role that many African organisations are able, or choose, to play - especially where they face authoritarian governments which are completely committed to the neo-liberal status quo and indifferent to the effects upon their countries and peoples.

4. 2 For other African organisations facing less hostile or less 'sold-out' governments, active lobbying of targeted government departments/officials at home, and the African delegations to the WTO in Geneva, is felt to be a viable and effective form of influence. Such focused and highly skilled lobbying has had positive effects on the positions and interventions of various African governments in Geneva and on NAMA per se [as is evident in section 6 above]. This has been born out in the influence of such proactive organisations in regional and continental inter-governmental meetings. However, this is practically/financially not a feasible role for many African organisations. The further problem is that, in order to win the 'respect' and 'trust' of government officials, such lobbyist organisations have to enter into the minute details and dynamics, and the very 'rationale' of the negotiation processes, and they can become so focused on the 'trees' and even 'each and every leaf on each and every tree' that they lose sight of 'the forest'; meaning the larger strategic whole.

4.3 Other anti-neoliberal organisations feel that achieving subtle shifts in the positions of African governments, while possibly useful overtime, is not commensurate with the time, efforts and resources entailed. Such slight shifts, they argue, do not per se change the ultimate outcomes. Focusing on the technical/legal details, while necessary, is not a sufficient basis for African governments to really counter the arguments and demands of the proponents of the WTO agreements and the neo-liberal trade paradigm. From this point of view, the most effective ammunition for African governments, and therefore the most important contribution of popular organisations is to locate their critiques very clearly within totally different political economy perspectives. The challenge for all anti-neoliberal forces in Africa, therefore, is to understand the nature of their own economies, societies and environments, expose the effects of neo-liberalism and propose and promote clear and comprehensive alternatives to their governments and against the currently dominant global paradigm.

4. 4 Such multifaceted alternatives produced by anti-neoliberal organisations have to draw also on the experiences of their constituencies and communities. Their situations and the hard realities of the effects of neo-liberal policies provide the most powerful testimony against institutions such as the WTO, the IMF/WB etc. Thus the direct and indirect linkages have to be drawn out between the substance, impact and implications of WTO agreements in relation to the immediate concerns and needs of people 'on the ground'. But the further importance of engaging with such broader constituencies is that it is, in the final analysis, the engagement and mobilisation of popular forces (or 'public opinion') that is the most effective means towards convincing governments to pay attention to alternative voices and visions. This, in turn, requires formal channels through which such voices and views can transmitted to, and taken on board by governments. Such popular empowerment is a vital democratic aim and end in itself, but vocal and active expressions of popular opposition to neo-liberal programs can also provide further powerful ammunition for governments to use, if they have the will and wisdom to do so, in their resistance against neo-liberal forces and organisations.

4. 5 A significant component within, and towards building broad and effective mass campaigns against the WTO, against the neo-liberal global regime, and for alternative development strategies, are trade union organisations at national, regional and continental levels. Organised labour is a large and strategically-placed social force in many African countries. Any broad and effective social movement must include organised workers. With regard to building campaigns against NAMA it is particularly important to engage trade unions which are situated at the heart of the industrial (manufacturing and mining) sectors and whose members are being directly hit, and threatened yet further, by the implementation of trade liberalisation policies and other market deregulation programs. There is great potential in the call from the largest and most powerful trade union in SA and Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), that NAMA that NAMA cannot go ahead: "It must be stopped, and it must be stopped now" . The challenge is for active alliances to be built between organised labour and other social forces within SA and in the rest of Africa … but where, in the main, organised labour is very weak. Clearly, a direct responsibility resides with the stronger trade unions to support and contribute to the development of their counterparts throughout Africa.

4. 6 The other social forces that also need to be mobilised are the millions of organised small farmers and peasants, forest workers and communities, fishing organisations and their communities, and small traders and producers. These will all be undermined by the intrusion into their sectors and their countries by larger-scale competitors from more economically advanced countries. Their struggles must be linked into the struggle against the WTO, as well. But such inter-linkages have also to be made with other related mass campaigns such as those for the ending of IMF and WB privatisation programs in Africa and its other neo-liberal structural adjustment programs; for the total cancellation of Africa's external 'debt'; for the compensation to Africa for the social and ecological debt owed by the developed countries and their corporations for the damages caused by their actions in Africa; and for the highly industrialised economies to shoulder their full responsibilities for the looming global climate and environmental crises.

4. 7 Such interlinking campaigns will also reinforce existing and new links with counterpart organisations in other countries of the South working on these campaigns as well as specifically against the WTO. The alliances and mutual support between trade unions, social movements and NGOs in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific are important in themselves and can also contribute to the essential cooperation and mutual support between their governments in the WTO, particularly the more active governments in the G20, the G33, and the G90. The broadest unity can be built on the basis of the interests that all developing countries have in common and in the context of the domination of them all by the most powerful countries and their corporations. A particular responsibility in this rests with the social forces in key larger and/or more economically advanced developing countries of the South, such as Argentina, Brazil, India, and South Africa, to ensure that their governments to play strong and positive roles in support of the rest of the South.

4. 8 Other inter-linkages of mutual support and solidarity must also be forged by all the above forces in the South with counterpart anti-corporate globalisation forces in the industrialised countries. Together they can create a powerful international movement against the WTO, neo-liberalism and globalised capitalism, even though they may use different terms to describe the economic system and regime bearing down on all peoples and the world . The Our world Is Not for Sale Network is the prime example of such an international North-South network. Amongst many tactical and practical issues that arise, building and maintaining such vast alliances, involving a wide range of organisations, entails political as well as organisational skills and democratic modalities. These are essential in order to build mutually acceptable campaigns and, if necessary, agreeing a certain 'division of labour'. This also requires effective communication and cooperation between those that work 'on the inside' during the ministerials - either as organisations 'accredited' by the WTO or even incorporated as members of their governments' delegations - and those that work 'on the outside'.

The varying tactical and practical positions between reformers and radicals also often cut across North-South lines. However, the challenges to them all are to identify and pursue immediate defensive demands or short term tactical aims in such a way that they do not divert attention from or undermine longer-term fundamental goals. These goals clearly have to be to:

  • stop NAMA, and GATS and other such offensive multilateral agreements serving the interests of global corporations and big capital;
  • block the WTO ministerial in Hong Kong and prevent the fraud of 'the Doha Round' from proceeding further;
  • dis-establish the WTO altogether and replace it, and the global neo-liberal corporate agenda, with an alternative system of democratic international institutions and different equitable and sustainable socio-economic development processes in the interests of humanity and our common planetary home.