The Doha Declaration and Beyond: Giving a Voice to Non-Trade Concerns within the WTO Trade Regime

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been a significant force in the liberalization of trade across international borders since its inception in 1995. Commentators suggest that its reforms have converted the focus of international trade policy from removal of barriers to positive policy-making--a field historically occupied by domestic authorities. And although largely successful in the promotion of international trade, the Authors suggest that the binding provisions of the WTO ignore non-trade concerns such as environmental protection, consumer rights, labor rights, and state sovereignty. The Agreement's inattention to these related concerns is the primary locus of criticism of the WTO, culminating in the breakdown of the 1999 Ministerial Meeting in Seattle, Washington. The Article examines the relationship between the Agreement and environmental, consumer protection, and labor policy, as well as the implications of WTO membership on state sovereignty. The Authors conclude that to improve the WTO's treatment of non-trade concerns, the WTO must increase participation to include non-trade stakeholders, develop and support expertise within the WTO to address nontrade concerns, and follow the "blueprint" articulated in the Ministerial Declaration at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha. The Declaration recognizes the importance of non-trade concerns and suggests a course of action that is likely to require the WTO to more squarely address the relationship between trade and non-trade policy.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I.   INTRODUCTION
 II.   ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS FACED BY THE WTO
       A.   The Impact of Environmental Regulation
            on Trade
       B.   WTO Disputes Involving the United States
       C.   Current Issues and Proposals
       D.   Trade Measures in Multilateral
            Environmental Agreements
       E.   Unilateral Use of Trade Measures
       F.   Role of the Environment in Trade
            Agreements
III.   FREE TRADE AND LABOR CONDITIONS
       A.   GATT and Labor Standards
       B.   Core Labor Rights Debate
       C.   Enforcing Labor Rights Using WTO's
            Unfair Trade Provisions
       D.   Proposed Plan of Action
            1.   Labor Rights and Free Trade
            Stakeholders
            2.   U.S. Unilateral Efforts
            3.   MNC-Based Solutions
 IV.   CONSUMER PROTECTION
       A.   Theory of Consumer Benefits of Free Trade
       B.   Consumer Criticisms of the WTO Regime
       C.   Consumer Case Studies
            1.   Growth Hormone-Treated Beef
            2.   The Banana Trade Dispute
            3.   TRIPS and Third World Access to
                 Life-Saving Drugs
       D.   Challenges for WTO Reform in the
            Consumer Domain
  V.   SOVEREIGNTY CONCERNS AND THE WTO
       A.   Defining Sovereignty: The U.S. Perspective
       B.   Sovereignty in the International Arena
       C.   The Sovereign Status of the WTO
            1.   The WTO and National Sovereignty
       D.   NAFTA and the WTO Compared
       E.   Summary
 VI.   RECOMMENDATIONS: BROADENING THE
       INTELLECTUAL BASE OF THE WTO
       A.   Broadening the Participant Base to
            Include Non-Trade Interests
       B.   Funding New Programs to Protect the
            Environment, Consumers, and Workers
       C.   New Rules and Policies: The Doha
            Declaration as an Initial Step
VII.   CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established on January 1, 1995. It was the capstone achievement to the extensive negotiations (1) culminating the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The WTO Agreements' (2) principal aim is to establish a free trading system in which one state's products and services are allowed to gain free access to the domestic markets of all other WTO member countries. The primary objectives of the WTO as recognized in the U. …