The WTO Minister Mini-Meeting in Davos is Illegitimate and Counterproductive

Zurich, 28.01.2006 - Swiss Trade Minister Joseph Deiss has invited 25-30 selected country representatives to Davos for a mini-meeting of ministers. The Berne Declaration (BD) believes that such informal meetings in small groups undermine the coalition of developing countries formed in Hong Kong.

Only at the last minute were the 149 WTO members able to agree on a common statement in Hong Kong, and even this was disputed up to the end. Too little was achieved to earn the right to be described as a development packet. For a concession on agriculture – expiration of export subsidies, improved market access for the poorest countries, but with exceptions – industrialized nations vehemently insist on an opening of the market in the areas of services and industrial goods. In response to this pressure the developing countries formed a coalition called the G110. Even though they pursue at times widely differing interests, the G110 countries want to demonstrate that they are nonetheless willing to support each other when possible.

Now Minister Deiss has once again invited a select group of ministers to Davos. "Such informal minister meetings such as this one in Davos undermine the coalition of developing countries, which in effect helps the industrialized countries to push through their interests," states Marianne Hochuli from The Berne Declaration. "Even Switzerland has had to experience for itself what it means to be left outside, at the WTO negotiations in July 2004. At the time, Minister Deiss was most unhappy to be represented by the E.U."

The Berne Declaration calls on the Swiss government to refrain from such nontransparent and undemocratic meetings, and instead to abide by the official negotiating bodies that are open to all WTO members.