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Christian Group Warns of WTO Walk Out

A Christian group said they are urging developing countries to walk out if they are not given a proposal that will help them fight poverty at the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks in Hong Kong on D
( [email protected] ) Dec 13, 2005 03:00 AM EST

A Christian group said they are urging developing countries to walk out if they are not given a proposal that will help them fight poverty at the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks in Hong Kong on Dec. 13-18.

The U.K.-based church agency the Christian Aid (CA) wants the European Union (EU) to dramatically change their "aggressive liberalizing trade policies" that is pushing developing countries to privatize the service sectors that have provided free or reduced fees for the poor, resulting in fees that, developing countries fear, is "well out of reach" for "the poor countries."

Christian Aid's Claire Melamed, head of trade policy said on Monday, "We will wait until the last minute until we finally call on developing countries to walk away from the WTO talks because we want to give the EU every opportunity to match its rhetoric and make an offer that is good for development."

According to a majority of the African countries, they said that the deal they are anticipating at the WTO talks will most likely "harm rather than benefit them." As a result CA said, "if this deal stays on the table, [we] will urge poor countries to walk out rather than sign up to a damaging agreement."

Meanwhile, the CA has noted that the EU has failed to make significant agricultural subsidies, and privatizing the service sectors will only affect the developing countries even more.

"Christian Aid is astonished that the EU can talk the language of development, while being so aggressive on the services sector – and at the same time giving so little up in return on agriculture or market access for poor countries," CA said in a pre-WTO report that revealed the EU's attempt to shift its focus of agriculture to services.

Besides the EU, CA is also calling for support from the UK and Irish governments to ensure that developing countries are given enough flexibility in trade agreements, thus allowing them to choose a trade policy that will work for them.

Christian leaders from all over the world have "grave doubts" that the WTO talks will deliver its goals to reduce poverty and diminish inequality, Ecumenical News International reported, and church groups from a broad range of denominations associated with civil society groups are converging in Hong Kong to lobby and protest for more justice.