Oxfam throws down gauntlet to world leaders over trade talks – Will they be Heroes or Zeroes?

Published: 17 May 2006

Superheroes could jump tall buildings and save entire cities, but could they rescue current world trade talks? World trade negotiators charged with this responsibility are in grave danger of bungling it. There’ll be no comic-book ending if they get it wrong.

In on- and off-line advertisements launched around the world today, Oxfam International calls on leading negotiators in the trade talks to act like heroes – or risk being zeroes if they fail to pull off a last-minute deal at the WTO that would truly help poor countries.

The ads portray leading figures in these talks as potential superheroes and will feature in countries including Spain, UK, Germany, Belgium, India, US and Uganda. There is so much at stake. The gains from last year’s G8 deal on more aid and debt relief could be lost by a bad trade deal that continues to lock people into poverty.

July is the crunch time if a deal is to be agreed this year. The US and the EU especially must change the way they’re conducting negotiations. So far they’ve offered as little as they can to poorer countries whilst demanding excessive concessions in return. There is still time for them to honor their promises to the world’s poor. Will they be heroes or zeroes?

Negotiators from developing countries must be heroic in holding out for the development deal they were promised and resist pressure to sign a bad deal. If rich countries don’t change their offers, then poor countries would be better off refusing to sign.

Oxfam is asking trade negotiators:

  • Is it fair that the current offers would allow the EU to actually increase its trade-distorting spending on agriculture?

  • Is it fair that rich countries will be able to continue to dump cheap subsidized produce into developing markets?

  • Is it fair that the US and other rich countries want to limit the ability of poorer countries to defend the products that their farmers depend upon?

  • Is it fair for the EU to be fighting to keep their tariffs high on so many vital products that are exported by developing countries?

  • Is it fair for the EU and US to deny their own industrial histories and insist that developing countries open up their fledgling industries to unfettered competition?

  • The Doha “Development” Round stands to fail on your watch. Is this the legacy by which you want to be remembered?


Contact Information

For more information, or to access to publicize “Hero or Zero?” artwork, please contact:
Matt Grainger, Oxfam Press Officer, tel: +44-1865-339128, or matt.grainger@oxfaminternational.org