World Trade Organization Symposium on Issues Confronting the World Trade System
WTO Headquarters, Geneva, 6-7 July 2001

Photos and RealAudio from Saturday, 7 July - Work session #2
Other pages: July 6 AM: Opening Plenary - July 6 PM: work session #1 and Reception - July 7 PM (Closing Plenary)
On this page: Food safety and SPS - TRIPS: Bio-technology/Bio-diversity - Trade and Development - Services II - Civil Society II
Food Safety and the SPS Agreement
July. Kazuaki Miyagishima, Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Kyoto University, and moderator of the session, gave an overview of the issues to be discussed, noting that human perception of, and sensitivity to, factors affecting human health vary depending on the type of risk factor. He said people are particularly concerned about novel risks, while they are less sensitive to, inter alia, hereditary, voluntary or pharmaceutical health risks.
Listen to Miyagishima's introduction
Dominique Taeymans, Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Confederation des Industries Agro-Alimentaires de l'UE, spoke on the subject of precaution. He noted it was first mentioned in the field of environment, in the Rio Declaration, and questioned whether it should be extended into other areas such as food safety. He said the principle had been codified in the WTO SPS agreement that requires food safety measures to be based on scientific evidence and risk analysis, in accordance with Codex Alimentarius procedures for risk assessment.
Listen to Taeymans' presentation
Hélène Coulibaly Fanny, Director for Food and Quality, Côte d'Ivoire, focused on developing country issues in terms of impacts of the SPS agreement on both the public and private sectors and current problem areas. She said the technical administrations had received more information and training than the private sector but noted that knowledge was insufficient and trade opportunities not emerging.
Listen to Coulibaly Fanny's presentation
Edward Groth, Senior Scientist, Consumers Union, US, emphasized the multidimensionality of the debate on GMOs, which covers scientific, human health-related, ecological, and economic issues. On human health risks, he noted possible allergenic or toxic effects, and cumulative impacts. On ecological risk, he noted possible gene flow between populations and gene pollution and difficulties to assess consequences.
Listen to Groth's presentation
TRIPS - Bio-technology & Bio-diversity

Thomas Cottier, Professor, Institute of European and International Economic Law, University of Berne, Switzerland, said that since the adoption of the TRIPs Agreement, the issues of biotechnology and biodiversity have been under discussion by a number of WTO departments. He questioned the extent to which the sharing of benefits can be promoted if all biological resources are in the public domain.

Listen to Cottier's introduction and Sahai's presentation

Suman Sahai, President, Gene Campaign, India, stated that genetic resources should remain in the public domain, and emphasized the importance of acknowledgement and economic gain from indigenous knowledge. Describing potential methods of protection for indigenous knowledge, she suggested certification and geographical indication. She said the greatest challenge would be to create sui generis systems with features such as prior informed consent and technology transfer. See RealAudio link above.

Jeffrey Kushan, Lawyer, Powell, Goldstein, Frazer and Murphy, the US, explained the nature of biotechnology, particularly as it relates to patenting and genetic resources. He distinguished between material in its natural state, and that which has been made or modified by human intervention. He discussed the CBD protection provisions, and emphasized that the CBD provisions protect genetic resources while the TRIPs agreement protects inventions.
Listen to Kushan's presentation
Trade & Development
David Runnalls, President, IISD, Canada, welcomed participants, and pointed out that issues related to trade and development reflect debates over implementation of the Uruguay Round. He identified related issues regarding: the trade-offs between rates of growth and income distribution; good governance and openness; real gains for developing countries from the Uruguay Round; green protectionism and market access; mainstreaming trade into development; and the use of environmentally-friendly technologies.
Listen to Runnall's introduction
Dilip K. Das, Senior Economist, Asian Development Bank, The Philippines, outlined the history of the relationship between trade and development and related research, highlighting the long-standing but common misconception regarding the benefits of trade. He said recent research on the benefits of import substitution, as opposed to export-led growth, has yielded results supporting both sides.
Listen to Das' presentation
Penny Fowler, Trade Policy Advisor, OXFAM, UK, stated that her organization believes that trade can be a force for poverty reduction and development. However, she explained that while rich countries and corporations have disproportionately captured the benefits of trade, poor people have suffered from trade liberalization when economic livelihoods have been displaced by an influx of imports.
Listen to Fowler's presentation
Jeffrey Schott, Senior Fellow, Institute for International Economics, the US, emphasized that trade does not determine development, although trade can be a useful part of development policy. Pointing to post-World War II development efforts, he stated that economic development is in everyone's interest. However, he pointed out that the state of globalization has made conditions different, and problems are more serious. Regarding the ingredients necessary to achieve development, he stressed the importance of self-reliance and international support.
Listen to Schott's presentation
View from the back of room during the "Trade and Development" work session
Services - the status of public services and negotiating issues
B.K. Zutshi, former Indian Ambassador to the WTO, explained that public services have not been defined per se in the GATS, and that the concept is all-inclusive except for services provided in the exercise of government authority. He questioned the effects of liberalization on equity, cost, availability and efficiency, noting that net impacts may depend on, inter alia, existing infrastructure.
Listen to Zutshi's introduction
André Sapir, Professor, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, emphasized the need for more efficient provision of services and the sectoral dimension of the GATS negotiations. He questioned whether negotiations on safeguard rules were encouraging or discouraging liberalization, and said that whatever safeguard clauses may emerge, they should be decided multilaterally and implemented without discrimination.
Listen to Sapir's presentation
Mike Waghorne, Assistant General Secretary, Public Services International, France, stressed that most concerns about the GATS are not about what it is or has done, but what it could do in the future. He described concerns that have been voiced about the GATS, such as that governments will be forced to liberalize public services. He said that this is not necessarily the case, and outlined terms within the agreement that provide protection to public services.
Listen to Waghorne's presentation
WTO & Civil Society - WTO institutional reforms (continued)
Sylvia Ostry, University of Toronto, noted that buffers no longer exist between international trade rules and the domestic policy space. She said there is no place within the WTO to have policy discussions, and called for the re-establishment of a forum also involving other entities than the WTO to create a necessary knowledge network.
Sothi Rachagan, Director, Consumers International, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, stressed that the world trading system creates comprises a framework for regulating trade, and should not be a world governance body venturing into areas outside its competence. He said the objective of the system is the raise standards of living for all through the promotion of free trade, as stated in the preamble of the WTO agreement, and stressed the objective of more equitable distribution of wealth.
Listen to Rachagan's presentation
Rachel Thompson, Global Trade Practice, APCO, stressed that institutional reform needs to be discussed at two levels - functional and institutional. She noted competing visions on the role of the world trading system, highlighting her view that it should be a vehicle for collective prevention of the use of trade instruments for nationalistic purposes. She called for more openness, including making documents more accessible, and improving participation of countries without permanent representation in Geneva.
Listen to Thompson's presentation
Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, Consumer Unity & Trust Society, highlighted his experience as a Southern NGO, noting increased access to information and key players developing over the last several years. He noted the need for resources and opportunities in order to attract people to work in the sector, and difficulties due to having to focus on multiple issues.
Go to: July 6 AM: Opening Plenary - July 6 PM: work session #1 and Reception - July 7 PM (Closing Plenary)
Sustainable Developments home page ~ Linkages home page

�2001, IISD. All rights reserved.