|27. May 2009
COSATU commends government’s stance not to rush to conclude Doha round
The Doha round of multilateral world trade negotiations - the ‘development round’ - was started in November 2001 and is now deadlocked due to anti-developmental and imperialist tendencies of among others, the US and the EU.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) commends the Department of Trade and Industry for opposing the current Doha texts on agriculture and industrial goods. In a statement released on 22 May 2009, it said that SA would not rush for an imperfect Doha deal.
The promised benefits from the 1994 Uruguay round of negotiations have not been felt by workers and the poor in developing countries including South Africa. Studies on the benefits of the post-Doha round indicate that developing countries will get little from liberalisation of trade and reduction of tariffs as proposed in the current Doha texts on agriculture and industrial goods.
World Bank economists have admitted that during periods of trade liberalisation “… job destruction rates can be expected to proceed at a much faster pace than job creation. Globalisation could therefore, be associated with higher unemployment rates”.
Some of the major concerns against the current Doha round are: The reduction in tariffs is biased in favour of developed countries, as developing countries with higher tariffs would have to reduce their tariffs more The use of ‘tariff peaks’- higher tariffs against exports on sensitive products from developing countries Tariff escalation, whereby developed countries discourage and prevent industrial development and processing in developing countries through imposition of higher tariffs on processed and finished goods and lesser tariffs on raw materials Further liberalisation and reduction of tariffs in industrial goods and agriculture, which will result in an increase in job losses and exacerbate the current food crisis.
COSATU demands: That there should be no commitment to complete the Doha round unless all implementation issues that have prevented developing countries from benefiting from the Uruguay Round trade liberalization are resolved to the satisfaction of developing countries. The current world trade system is so imbalanced that liberalisation does not provide the claimed benefits of free market and free trade.
In light of the economic crisis, SA should reject the current text on agriculture and Industrial goods and not offset any gains in these sectors with commitments to open, deregulate and privatise the services sector under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
SA should reverse its GATS commitments on the liberalisation and deregulation of the financial sector.
SA should not sign off on any bilateral agreement as such an agreement might undermine SA’s position at WTO and worsen the economic crisis.