Press release

Pascal Lamy’s victory for the WTO general directorship means another turn of the screw

23 May 2005 by CADTM

The Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM) condemns the election of Pascal Lamy as the World Trade Organisation WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

(WTO) general director and calls for a massive mobilisation at the G8 G8 Group composed of the most powerful countries of the planet: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA, with Russia a full member since June 2002. Their heads of state meet annually, usually in June or July. summit in Edinburgh (Scotland) in July and the WTO General Council in Geneva (Switzerland) on 26 July and 19 October 2005.

With this appointment, populations which have been subjected to neoliberalism for more than 25 years will not see any shift in policies forcibly imposed by multilateral institutions. On the contrary, Pascal Lamy’s victory against the three candidates from the South for the WTO general directorship will inevitably mean yet another turn of the screw to the advantage of global finance and multinational companies. This brash liberal-socialist is a former member of the executive committee of the French Socialist Party, while fervently defending the market creed. He was Jacques Delors’ main collaborator at the European Commission and helped to make it a powerful neoliberal engine. He was one of the senior managers of the French bank Crédit Lyonnais responsible for its privatisation and made his name between 1999 and 2004 as a particularly arrogant European Commissioner for Trade, scorning the interests of the most vulnerable populations. Finally, he is an Officer of the Order of Merit in Gabon, which interestingly shows he has made a place for himself in French-African networks.

His election, to be confirmed on 26 May, is a new step in the strengthening of the US and EU hold on international institutions. It is to be added to a long and very significant series: the election of Rodrigo Rato (former Spanish Finance Minister in the José Maria Aznar administration) as the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
manager in April 2004; the election of Ann Venneman (former Agriculture Minister in the Bush administration) as the head of UNICEF in January 2005; the election of Paul Wolfowitz (former US Defence Ministry number two) as head of the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

(WB) in March 2005.

The few members from Southern countries to achieve such positions are also perfectly moulded in the neoliberal model: Supachai Panitchpakdi, from Thailand, left the WTO for the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD UNCTAD
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
This was established in 1964, after pressure from the developing countries, to offset the GATT effects.

) and Kemal Dervis, the former WB official and ultraliberal former Turkish Minister of Economy, has just been appointed at the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
The UNDP, founded in 1965 and based in New York, is the UN’s main agency of technical assistance. It helps the DC, without any political restrictions, to set up basic administrative and technical services, trains managerial staff, tries to respond to some of the essential needs of populations, takes the initiative in regional co-operation programmes and co-ordinates, theoretically at least, the local activities of all the UN operations. The UNDP generally relies on Western expertise and techniques, but a third of its contingent of experts come from the Third World. The UNDP publishes an annual Human Development Report which, among other things, classifies countries by their Human Development Rating (HDR).


With such a close mesh of key positions at the international level, the global net in which common goods Common goods In economics, common goods are characterized by being collectively owned, as opposed to either privately or publicly owned. In philosophy, the term denotes what is shared by the members of one community, whether a town or indeed all humanity, from a juridical, political or moral standpoint. , public services and populations are trapped is going to further tighten. Pascal Lamy said that his main priority will be to swiftly conclude the Doha Round negotiations started in November 2001, against which hundreds of social movements mobilized around the world. While the production of generic drugs is severely restricted, an agreement permitting the importation of these generic products was obtained by poor countries in August 2003. However, this should not be allowed to obscure the fact that, following pressure from big pharmaceutical companies, these imports are only authorised after a long and restrictive procedure, making the drugs inaccessible for most Third World countries.

And as though this were not bad enough, in March 2005, under the pressure of the WTO, India, the leading producer of generic drugs for AIDS, adopted a very restrictive patent reform, which makes it illegal to copy patented drugs and will dramatically increase the price of AIDS drugs available in Southern countries, preventing millions of patients from accessing these drugs.

It is in this context that the CADTM demands the withdrawal of the Doha Agenda, the suppression of the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement, the abrogation of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), and more generally, the end of structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

policies imposed through the debt mechanism by the International Money Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the WTO, to the benefit of very few. It is time to put an end to this disastrous logic whose failure to advance human development has been amply demonstrated.

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