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World Trade Organization: Its Role and Future

The article describes the boost of antiglobalist movement in the context of WTO activities. The turning point was November, 1999, when tens of thousands of people gathered in Seattle to protest about its pro-corporate schemes. The paradox of the situation was that the main corporate media took sides with anti-corporate public opinion, which reinforced the impact of the latter. What is called “the first global revolution” relates to a new vision of world economy that puts social interest higher than economic one. Trade unions have realized that transnational corporations need transnational opposition; talks about corporations’ accountability to citizens have started. Social and environmental activists become increasingly aware of the necessity of joint efforts. It is claimed that over 60, 000 people from more than 700 organizations participated in the mass protest in Seattle. One of the key points of protest deals with internalization of trade which causes in huge corporations taking power over national markets. As a result, local governments become hostages and have to ignore local vendors in favor of corporations. The author of the article states that commerce, culture and ecology often conflict because of their different paces of chance. Thus, it is suggested that priorities should change in order to exclude killing culture and nature out of commercial interest.

All in all, the events of 1999 were just the beginning of a new era, where global challenges have to be dealt globally. The consensus between opinions of leaders in different fields made it possible to challenge corporations whose power used to be thought of as absolute. At the same  time, the discussion of whether WTO has future is raised worldwide. The point is that WTO does not help world trade function effectively. Despite the fact that developing countries have some advantages, they prove to fail protecting them. As a result, rich countries become richer, while poorer countries become even poorer. So, involvement of activists gives a chance to rethink the role of WTO. Their participation is necessary because they represent civil society that traditionally observes how democratic values are applied and whether they are overlooked. In case with WTO, it is clear that without having outside observers, it will continue playing the role of global corporations’ foundation. Besides, life has demonstrated that existing mechanisms of protecting local economies of less developed countries fail to work properly. For instance, Chinese farmers suffer from import of cheap foreign rice, which happens due to the way WTO functions at the moment. Open discussion with activists and opinion leaders will help find new solutions to the issues that the world faces nowadays. One of the reforms that WTO needs is shift of the emphasis from economy to environment, which is definitely one of the most significant challenges. As a global institution that manages complex economic process, it has tools to both improve and worsen the situation with ecology by introducing certain measures. Unless ecological activists participate in open discussion about WTO reforms, the situation with prevailing of commercial interests has little chance to change. It has to take a more active part in issues like climate change because it is able to direct joint efforts to cope with the problem and introduce economic standards that will help it. Besides, WTO is an organization that is involved in food trade, while ignoring the fact that food safety and quality is one of the most serious problems nowadays.  So, WTO’s participation in regulation of this process and commitment to help control food can be useful. Balance should be found between WTO’s obligation to ensure trade liberty and social responsibility that it should take in relation to the most significant challenges of today’s world.

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