The Making of International Trade Policy

The Making of International Trade Policy

NGOs, Agenda-Setting and the WTO

Hannah Murphy

This book investigates the contributions of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to policymaking at the WTO, challenging the idea that NGOs can be narrowly understood as potential ‘democratic antidotes’ to the imperfections of Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs).

Chapter 6: The NGO Campaign Against a WTO Investment Agreement

Hannah Murphy

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, public policy


INTRODUCTION Following the WTO’s 2001 Doha Ministerial Conference, international debate over the launch of negotiations on a WTO foreign investment agreement polarized WTO member states and elicited strong opposition from a broad range of NGOs. In late 2002 in preparation for the Cancún Ministerial Conference, an international NGO campaign emerged to publicize the negative aspects of a potential WTO investment framework, especially for developing countries. The arguments put forward by NGOs significantly informed the anti-investment position of developing WTO members, including the ACP countries, the LDC group and the African Group. Some of these member governments even invited NGO representatives to sit on their official delegations at the 2003 Cancún Ministerial Conference. During the conference, a new coalition of developing countries emerged – the G-90 – that flatly refused to agree to the launch of negotiations on a WTO investment agreement and the other Singapore issues until progress was made on issues of importance to developing members. This stance contributed to the collapse of the Cancún conference. The following year WTO members agreed on the ‘July package’ to get the Doha Round back on track, which saw the removal of the investment issue from the agenda altogether.1 This outcome is seen as a major victory for developing countries and their NGO supporters. Like the medicines campaign outlined in Chapter 5, this case study detailing the NGO campaign against a WTO investment agreement seeks to shed light upon relations between NGOs and developing states. It thus provides another point of...

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