First appearances are deceiving at the WTO meeting

The WTO mini-ministerial in Delhi has now concluded. On first appearances, it looks as if the meeting has given a boost to the cause of free trade and a WTO deal break through. Afterall, Shri Anand Sharma, India's commerce and industry minister issued a final statement to say, "There was a unanimous affirmation on the need to conclude the Doha Round within 2010."

But affirming the desire to finalise the process is not the same as actually taking concrete steps to reach that goal. So there are no new commitments on the table, and key players like the US have refused to reveal their hand. Importantly, developing and developed countries are still split over what subjects should be on the negotiating table and which countries will be invited to talk around it.

Assessing the final statement from the meeting, the World Development Movement's trade officer Vicky Cann says, "Even once the dust has settled, it will be hard to see what has come out of this meeting. Ministers may be sending their officials back to Geneva to re-start talks, but these negotiations remain based on highly flawed papers which can only lead to an outcome which penalises the poor and rewards major corporations. The WTO will re-convene ministers in December in Geneva and we, along with millions of activists, farmers and trade unionists from around the world, will continue to say that 'no deal is better than a bad deal."