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This page is updated on 2006-07-27 12:04
Christian Service News

Issue 50 (January 2006)

Opinion Feedback

The Meeting of WTO

The WTO MC6 (World Trade Organization 6th Ministerial Conference) was held in Hong Kong from 13th to 18th December 2005. It attracted vast press attention and occupied major coverage from newspapers and television everyday during the conference period.

For most Hong Kong people, WTO only came to our notice in the last few months, thanks to our government who wanted to host this round of meetings. Other than that, WTO was very foreign to us, especially in this round of talks, because the agenda that focused mainly on the farming and service industries seemed so irrelevant to Hong Kong.

When we look back to this meeting in December last year, how should we make sense of it? What is the meaning of WTO?

To WTO members and governments at large, WTO means 'World Trade', and is more properly understood as 'World Free Trade'. It is believed that through this organization and the cooperation among numerous countries, world free trade would be enhanced so as to further facilitate economic development, which in turn improves quality of life for people all over the world. Breaking trade barriers is one of the major objectives to accomplish in the WTO's mission.

For developed countries, WTO perhaps also means 'What To Offer'. They believe that world free trade will finally bring benefits to all mankind. Trade barriers or protectionism will only hinder continuous economic development. But to other less developed or least developed countries, the developed countries (with their 'What To Obsess' beliefs) only care about 'What To Obtain' from other countries through this organization and through a number of unfair regulations and practices (such as the well known case of huge subsidies to farmers).

Furthermore, for less developed and least developed countries, WTO may have become an organization that coerces them by telling them 'What To Obey' without considering the unfair outcome of these agreements. Thus, for these countries, and in particular the farmers and fishermen who suffered the most, WTO would be understood as 'What To Object'. In this manner, 'What To Obstruct' is not only targeted towards the progress of the meetings, but more importantly the unfair agreements that make unfair trade so aggravating.

As for Hong Kong people, who are residents of an Asian 'World City', WTO only means 'What To Observe'. Pitifully, what we read from the local newspapers or saw on television mainly focused on the conflict episodes between the demonstrators and the police. Although these confrontations looked very exciting and 'entertaining', Hong Kong people should in fact focus on 'What To be Open-Eyed' (so as to better situate ourselves as a world city) and 'What To be Open-Minded' (so that we would be reflective enough to have our own judgment on the pros and cons of WTO). We would then be able to, as citizens of a world city, to revisit for ourselves 'What To Offer' to enhance Fair Trade and a just system to improve the quality of life for all mankind. The benefits of world free trade must not be heavily tilted towards some people at the expense of sacrificing many others from the rest of the world.

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