Inter-Parliamentary UnionIPU Logo-top
    Press ReleaseIPU Logo-middle
No.152, Geneva, 18 February 2003 IPU Logo-bottom


The members of the 76 parliaments gathered in Geneva on the occasion of the parliamentary conference jointly organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the European Parliament are convinced of the need for a parliamentary dimension of the WTO. The final declaration adopted today in Geneva after a two-day meeting stated that "our objective is to enhance the transparency of WTO activities". The MPs present in Geneva declared their wish to promote further trade liberalisation which should take into account national development policies within an equitable rules-based trading system, adding that "the accession of new countries to the WTO is crucial to enable it to become a truly universal organisation. Our goal is to promote trade that benefits people everywhere, enhances development and reduces poverty".

The legislators lauded the objectives set out in the Doha Development Agenda, which puts the concerns of the developing countries at the centre of the multilateral trading system and gives them pride of place in the present round of negotiations. "We welcome the fact that the Doha mandate tackles developing country concerns about access to export markets. We applaud the stated intent to phase out agricultural export subsidies, and we acknowledge that the establishment of the Global Trust Fund, to which every developed country should contribute, will greatly increase the resources available for technical assistance in the area of implementation", they declared.

On a more critical note, the MPs expressed their misgivings about developments that have occurred since the Doha Ministerial Meeting. "We regret that the deadlines on special and differential treatment for developing countries, and on making the TRIPS Agreement more flexible in order to improve access to medicines, have not been met. An alternative emergency solution for certain pandemics must be implemented".

"Trade distorting practices are unacceptable"

The MPs were also concerned at the lack of progress on the fundamental issue of enhancing real access to markets, stating that "it is crucial that agreement is reached on reducing barriers to trade in the field of agriculture, textiles and clothing. Agricultural support in wealthy countries, taken globally, is about four times the amount that is paid out in development assistance to the poor nations of the world. We consider that such trade distorting practices, and their social consequences, are unacceptable".

Legislators pledged to raise the issues in their parliaments and engage their respective trade negotiators in a dialogue. At the same time, they agreed to continue the ongoing parliamentary process relating to the WTO, especially in the lead-up to the forthcoming Ministerial Meeting in Cancun (Mexico).

The MPs stressed their shared conviction that that the days when foreign policy, and more specifically trade policy were the exclusive domain of the executive branch are over. The parliaments resolved to participate more in the running of public affairs that transcend national borders, declaring that a parliamentary interface was necessary to ensure better representation of citizens in the multilateral negotiating process.

Established in 1889 and with its Headquarters in Geneva, the IPU, the oldest multilateral organisation, currently has 144 affiliated national parliaments and five regional assemblies as associate members. The organisation of the world's parliaments also has a Liaison Office with the United Nations in New York.
Other press releases More information

Contacts for additional information or interviews:
Mrs. Luisa Ballin, IPU Information Officer
5, ch. du Pommier, CH - 1218 Le Grand-Saconnex / Geneva
Tel. +4122 919 41 16/27
Fax: +4122 919 41 60, 919 41 97
E-mail: or

Mr. Klaus Hullmann, European Parliament Press Office
GSM +32 475 45 18 11