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International Gender and Trade Network: WTO Fifth Ministerial Meeting, Cancun, Mexico, September 10-14th, 2003 (Position Papers on Four WTO Issues)

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The IGTN Advocacy Document for the 5th WTO Ministerial Meeting that was held in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003 focuses on these four issues and identifies critical advocacy positions for each of them. With regard to agriculture, the IGTN asserts that control over agriculture by states rather than the WTO would ensure that small-scale and subsistence farmers have control over farming and food supply; a particularly important concern for women around the world who are those responsible for ensuring household food security and managing family farms. The IGTN calls for agriculture to be taken out of the WTO. Secondly, as social services continue to be privatised in many southern countries, the burden of care work is disproportionately borne by women. They are also forced to pay higher prices to private providers of essential services and also face threats to their employment in the public sector when areas such as health are privatised. IGTN therefore suggests that services that are essential to social reproduction be removed from GATS. The Network calls for the removal of TRIPS from the WTO and for countries' to have the right to protect their biological and agricultural resources and diversity-often the role played by indigenous women who protect this knowledge. Finally, the advocacy document calls for no negotiations on the Singapore issues-which includes investment-and for a critical redefinition of FDI which has encouraged gender biases and exploitation of female labor, especially in EPZs. The document underscores the fundamental position of the IGTN that the scope of the WTO should be reduced to trade specific issues.