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German Metalworkers Call on Government to Halt Pressure on Developing Countries in WTO Talks

Posted to the IUF website 12-Jul-2006

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Germany's IG Metall - representing over 2 million workers in auto, metal, furniture and textiles, among other heavily export-dependent sectors - has called on the German government to work for an end on pressure on developing countries to conclude the WTO "development round" talks on the disastrous terms currently on the table. Talks broke down in Geneva on June 30 over most developing countries' refusal to accede to steep tariff reductions - on the order of 75%, with a vastly lower reduction for developed countries - for manufactured imports in the context of NAMA (non-agricultural market access) negotiations and the ongoing refusal of the developed countries and trading blocs to make genuine concessions on agriculture which would put an end to dumping on world markets and ease developed country import restrictions. The services negotiations have also stalled over efforts to use them to break down remaining government regulatory mechanisms and strengthen protection for transnational investors.

In its July 6 letter to the German Economics Minister, IG Metall points out that the current NAMA proposals would have a devastating impact on employment, living standards, trade balances, public revenue and the ability of national governments to pursue development strategies and active industrial policies. "The majority of developing countries", writes the union, "have had to accept a long-term loss of prosperity and employment as a result of overhasty market liberalisation. Successful participation in international trade requires an adequate level of successful industrialisation - not the opposite. The final NAMA project must not stipulate how many tariffs are to be bound and at what level this is to be done. For reasons of social and development policy, developing countries must be able to revise obligations previously undertaken."

Germany's largest manufacturing union thereby adds its powerful voice to the growing number of national and international trade union organizations who have called for rejection of the strong arm tactics and current terms on which the WTO negotiators are attempting to force through a conclusion to the current round.

The text of the IG Metall letter is available here on the website of the International Metalworkers' Federation in German and English.

Click here to read The 'Doha Development Round': a recipe for the massive destruction of livelihoods, mass unemployment and the degradation of work