1. The WTO only serves the interests of transnational corporations
The WTO is as democratic as its member governments; and between the members it is ultra-democratic because decisions are taken by consensus — all members have to be persuaded. The rules are written by member governments, no one else has access to the negotiations. However, governments, which are elected democratically by their citizens, do take into account the views of various groups in their societies. How they do that is up to them and their citizens. Governments regularly cite pressure from consumer, environmental, human rights and labor organizations, as well as business. The structure of negotiations also helps governments strike a more equitable balance between various interest groups over a broad range of issues.
2. The WTO is a stacked court
The WTO's dispute settlement procedures were agreed by all member governments. They were not imposed on anyone. Dispute panels rule on whether countries break agreements they have made with each other in the WTO — not on “whether domestic laws are barriers to trade”. Without these independent panels, countries could be tempted to settle trade conflict by force.
3. The WTO tramples over labor and human rights
The “WTO” has not refused to address this issue. At their first ministerial meeting (Singapore, 1996), WTO members reaffirmed their commitment to core labor standards.
The WTO’s developing-country members resist including labour standards in WTO rules because: (a) they see it as a guide for protectionism in developed-country markets, a smokescreen for undermining the comparative advantage of lower-wage developing countries; and (b) they argue that better working conditions and improved labour rights arise through economic growth — sanctions imposed against countries with lower labour standards would merely perpetuate poverty and delay improvements in workplace standards.
4. The WTO is... [continues]
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