28 March 2000
WTO ‘bull-headed’, warns Meacher

THE World Trade Organisations “bull-headed” efforts to set up a new trade round without first getting support from developing nations, could be gravely damaging, warns environment minister Michael Meacher.

Mr Meacher told the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London that more had to be done to assure developing countries that their trade demands would be met, reports the Financial Times.

EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy is trying to launch a trade round this year, a goal which the USA and Japan say they support.

But Mr Meacher warned that negotiations should not begin until lessons are learned from the collapse of last Decembers ministerial talks in Seattle.

In an editorial the FT says that rich nations should stand up to protectionist lobbies and do more to open their markets to less-developed countries.

Meanwhile, Ecuador is to ask the WTO for permission to impose more than US$200m in trade retaliation against the EU in their banana dispute.

Ecuador says this sum will cover money losses arising from the EUs discriminatory banana import regime.

However, Ecuador is undergoing its worst economic crisis in 70 years and would accept a compensation deal, possibly involving a bigger share of the EU banana market, or direct aid.

The EU favours bananas from former colonies of member states, especially the Caribbean, and limits imports from Latin American countries.

The WTO has condemned this in a series of judgements.

  • Financial Times 28/03/2000 page 14 and 22