Trade wars on the Web

时间:2019-03-07 06:07:03166网络整理admin

Disputes at and after the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle (see “Free for all”) will doubtless generate confusion—but the Web can help explain it all. Start at the disputes section of the WTO site at www.wto.org/wto/dispute/dispute.htm, which will help you find out what each country really cares about. Meanwhile, the WTO’s official advisory body on food safety, the UN’s Codex Alimentarius Commission, tries to reach science-based agreements about food trade before disputes arise (www.fao.org/WAICENT/faoinfo/economic/ESN/codex/Default.htm). It will have a central role in the looming debates over genetically modified (GM) foods. So far, disputes have dominated WTO decision-making. Imagine one side says hormone-treated meat is safe, and the other side says it isn’t and refuses to import it. In such a case, three people—not necessarily scientific experts—hear masses of complicated science from each side over a short space of time, then arbitrate. There is no effective right to appeal. Is this any way to run a global economy? Many say it isn’t. Public Citizen, consumer champion Ralph Nader’s US-based pressure group, discusses the often secondary role played by science in WTO decision-making (www.citizen.org/pctrade/gattwto/wto-book.pdf). Meanwhile, Canadian campaigners will help you through the economics: try their fun site at http://adbusters.org/campaigns/question/splash.html. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (www.iatp.org) promotes sustainable farming—a big issue for developing countries that could get lost amid squabbles over GM food. Just reading through the public meetings in Seattle listed by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (www.ictsd.org) is dizzying. This consortium of campaigners, from the World Wide Fund for Nature to the Quakers, has posted the draft agreements that ministers will sign, or not, on its site— and it will be posting updates throughout the meeting. More on these topics: