"To address the global economic crisis and to foster broad development, the WTO should be overhauled and reoriented. That was the message coming out of the Seattle WTO meetings in 1999, and it remains the message four years later." - Tom Barry, IRC program director.

While multilateral trade rules are necessary to assure predictability, resolve disputes and eliminate technical barriers, free trade is an ideology whose merits have not been proven in practice. The NAFTA experience and that of developing countries in Asia and throughout the Americas have demonstrated that for much of the poor population, trade and investment liberalization do not lead to fulfillment of development goals. These policies have led to serious environmental, economic and social problems in developing countries, and among workers and small farmers in developed countries, while the big winners have been the transnational corporations. Many of the WTOs rules and functions should be reviewed and revised, to reflect the overall goal of development and poverty alleviation rather than trade liberalization as a goal in itself.

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