The Colombo Ddeclaration

People’s Democracy

Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 19,



10 Years Is Enough!

Deal At WTO

Kong Ministerial Meeting


organisations, individuals and movements assembled at Colombo, Sri Lanka for the
Asian Strategy meeting on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on June 6-7, 2005.
They concluded that 10 years period is enough to judge the dismal record of the
WTO. They declared that they did not favour any deal at the WTO sixth
ministerial meeting to be held from December 13 to 18, 2005 in Hong Kong.


December 13 to 18, 2005, the World Trade Organisation’s Sixth Ministerial
Meeting will take place in Hong Kong. This event will have massive consequences. 
Either the WTO finally gets consolidated as the prime mechanism of global
trade liberalisation, or it unravels a third time, possibly crippling
permanently its usefulness as an institution for the promotion of the interests
of Northern transnational corporations (TNCs).




the WTO is suffering a deep crisis of legitimacy and credibility as it marks its
10th year of existence comes as no surprise to us in Asia. 
When it was founded in 1995, it was sold to developing and least
developed countries as an institution that would bring about growth, reduce
global poverty, and decrease income inequality by expanding free trade. 
A decade later, the evidence is undeniable that the WTO has brought about
exactly the opposite effects.

  • The
    Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) has proved to be nothing but a gigantic
    dumping mechanism for cheap subsidised grain and foodstuffs from the United
    States and the European Union on the agricultural markets of developing and
    least developed countries’, destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of
    millions of farmers and agricultural workers and provoking the suicide of
    many of them and their dependents.

  • The
    Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement has functioned
    to rob our communities of their collective right to resources, seeds,
    indigenous knowledge and even life itself, and to thwart development by
    allowing transnational corporations to monopolise technological innovations
    throughout the whole range of industries. It has seriously undermined
    people’s food sovereignty. By putting corporate profits above public
    health concerns, TRIPs has facilitated a public health crisis in the form of
    HIV-AIDS that has drastically setback many parts of Asia as well as Africa.

  • The
    General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), with its central principle of
    “national treatment” providing foreign investors equal rights as
    national actors, is proving to be an extraordinarily powerful tool for TNC
    entry into and control of the service sector. This situation is particularly
    acute for developing and least developed countries which accounts for more
    than 50 per cent of their gross domestic product. Especially threatened are
    water, electricity, telecommunications, health, educational and other
    essential services that necessitate public generation and delivery systems
    in order to assure all citizens equitable access to them. GATS will lead to
    the shrinking of the public sector, threatening national sovereignty and
    provoking serious social unrest.


it claims to provide potential benefits to LDCs, the GATS Mode 4 (the movement
of natural persons) carries a big risk of allowing big business control of the
movement of people, resulting in the trampling of the rights of migrant workers.


liberalisation and WTO-sanctioned dumping have resulted in job losses and
welfare erosion across the board, but the brunt of their negative impacts have
fallen on women, who make up more than half of the work force in agriculture,
industry, and services in many countries but receive lower remuneration, are
subjected to worse working conditions, are less protected by labour and human
rights codes, and face greater job insecurity than men. Indeed large numbers
experience outright exclusion from the labour force, leading to the
forced-migration of many.  Privatisation
of basic services also increases the burden of social reproduction for women.


rules also accelerate the marginalisation of already vulnerable groups such as
dalits and indigenous people who now comprise a significant number of the poor
and hungry.




a stupendous display of cynicism, the trade superpowers have labeled the current
round of trade negotiations the “Doha Development Round.” 
Yet there is nothing in the Doha Agenda that promotes development.  In fact, everything in the so-called “July Framework
Agreement” that serves as the basic text to conclude the current round is
profoundly anti-development:

  • The
    framework on agriculture is designed to maintain or expand such mechanisms
    of massive subsidisation for Northern agricultural interest such as the
    “Green Box” or the “Blue Box” while demanding market access to
    Southern agricultural markets through a new round of steep tariffs cuts, if
    not outright elimination of tariffs.

  • The
    framework for non-agricultural market access (NAMA) aims to radically bring
    down and bind industrial and manufacturing tariffs to allow TNC products to
    flood Southern markets, resulting in unemployment and contractualisation, as
    well as deindustrialisation and the inability of developing and least
    developed countries to use trade policy as an instrument of
    industrialisation.  It will also
    result in greater hardship for already suffering fisherfolk, particularly
    those in tsunami-ravaged countries, whose livelihoods will be further eroded
    by NAMA’s proposed liberalisation of fisheries.

  • The
    July Framework relegates to the backburner the principal concerns of
    developing and least developed countries, which are development, the
    institutionalisation of Special and Differential Treatment and addressing
    problems associated with the high cost of implementing previous
    liberalisation commitments,




surprisingly, the pro-corporate agenda of the WTO has provoked massive
resistance over the last 10 years.  In Seattle in December 1999, the combination of the refusal
of developing and least developed countries to rubberstamp a new round of
liberalisation and massive anti-WTO mobilisation by global civil society brought
about the collapse of the third ministerial meeting. 
In Cancun in September 2003, resistance by developing and least developed
countries organised into the G-20, G-33, and G-90, where the least developed
countries played a critical leadership role, combined with civil society
demonstrations and actions inside and outside the Cancun Convention Centre that
led to the collapse of the fifth ministerial.


salvage the WTO as an instrument of the TNC agenda, the United States and the
European Union successfully mounted an institutional coup in July 2004 wherein
the WTO General Council came out with a decree that could only legally be issued
by a full ministerial meeting: the now notorious July Framework Agreement. 
This maneuver, however, could only succeed owing to the cooptation of G
20 leaders Brazil and India as full negotiating partners in the so-called Five
Interested Parties (FIPs), with the EU and US designating them to
“represent” the South.  Once
again, the big Northern powers deployed divide-and-rule against the South; once
again they succeeded.  Once again,
the Northern elites stoked the ambitions of their Southern counterparts; once
again they succeeded in turning them against their people. 


the resort to threat, deception, and cooptation underlines the fact that
developing and least developed countries have lost all faith in the possibility
of reforming the WTO so that extraordinary methods must be used to bring them on




nothing to gain and everything to lose by agreeing to the July Framework, the
developing and least developed countries must resolutely stand their ground and
refuse to make the latest concessions demanded by the big trading powers. 
Global civil society must consistently pressure the governments of the
South to reinforce their determination and force them back into line should
they, like the governing elites of Brazil and India, falter. 
In this connection, we demand that governments put the interests of
people above that of transnational corporations.

refusing to give their consent to the pro-TNC agenda in each of the key
negotiating areas in the negotiations leading up to the Hong Kong meeting and
during the ministerial itself, the developing country governments have it in
their power to stalemate the latest liberalisation offensive. 
This strategy would, of course, be tantamount to preventing a deal from
being reached at the sixth ministerial, but, as in Seattle, as in Cancun,
deal is better than a bad deal.


of the sixth ministerial meeting will not end the threat of free trade to the
developing and least developed countries.  They
will still have to contend with bilateral trade and multilateral trade
agreements—the so-called WTO plus agreements—pushed by the US, EU, and
Japan.  Nevertheless, given the
WTO’s centrality in the TNC agenda, a failed ministerial could help bring
about a new global power equation marked by more favourable conditions for the
achievement of what we consider to be strategic prerequisites for the success of
pro-people sustainable development:

  • the
    expulsion of the WTO from the domains of agriculture and fisheries, services
    and intellectual property rights;

  • frustration
    of the WTO’s aim to de-industrialise the developing countries and least
    developed countries and make them captive markets for the TNCs;

  • and
    the creation of a trade regime that genuinely promotes pro-people and
    rights-based sustainable development


conclusion, we declare our solidarity with peoples and communities fighting back
against the WTO and bilateral, regional and multilateral free trade agreements
in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other parts of the world. 


call all to participate in activities taking place within the next few months
aimed at preventing a deal from being reached at the Hong Kong Ministerial, be
these lobbying activities, mass mobilisations, and non-violent direct action. 
We also urge civil and political movements to mobilise and organise
activities and actions designed to pressure national governments to protect the
peoples’ interest. We urge everyone to mobilise their co-workers, families and
friends and bring them to the “derail-the-ministerial” demonstrations and
events in Hong Kong in mid-December. We also call on developed country
governments to desist from the tactics of intimidation and, manipulation that
they regularly employ in negotiations…


workers, organised and un-organised, peasants, dalits, indigenous peoples,
fisherfolks, women, students, migrants and other marginalised communities of
Asia in solidarity with other peoples of the world will stand at the forefront
of the global struggle against the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting