When it comes to the World Trade Organization (WTO), there are a lot of issues on the table. However, there are several topics that the WTO agreement does not address. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what those issues are and why they are not covered by the WTO.
1. Labor Standards
The WTO agreement does not address labor standards. This means that the organization does not have any rules or regulations regarding workers` rights, fair wages, or working conditions. While some may argue that these issues fall under the purview of the International Labour Organization (ILO), others argue that labor standards should be addressed within the trade context. Nonetheless, the WTO continues to focus on trade liberalization and economic growth.
2. Environmental Protection
The WTO agreement does not address environmental protection. While there are some environmental provisions in specific agreements, such as the Agreement on Agriculture, there is no comprehensive agreement that addresses the protection of the environment. This lack of attention to environmental issues has drawn criticism from environmental advocacy groups, who argue that trade rules should support sustainable development.
3. Intellectual Property Rights and Access to Medicines
The WTO agreement does address intellectual property rights through the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. However, the TRIPS agreement has sparked controversy over access to medicines, as it provides patent protection to pharmaceutical companies. Some argue that this has resulted in higher drug prices and limited access to life-saving medicines, particularly in developing countries.
4. Food Safety
The WTO agreement does address food safety through the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). However, the SPS agreement has been criticized for disproportionately benefiting developed countries and multinational corporations, who have greater resources to comply with the standards. This has led to concerns about food safety and the impact on local farmers and producers in developing countries.
5. Human Rights
The WTO agreement does not address human rights. This means that there are no rules or regulations regarding issues such as discrimination, freedom of speech, or access to education. While some may argue that these issues fall under the purview of the United Nations, others argue that the WTO should have a role in promoting human rights as a fundamental aspect of sustainable development.
In conclusion, the WTO agreement does not address several key issues, including labor standards, environmental protection, intellectual property rights and access to medicines, food safety, and human rights. While some of these issues are addressed in specific agreements, there is no comprehensive framework that addresses them all. This has drawn criticism from various advocacy groups, who argue that trade rules should be more inclusive and balanced, with a broader focus on sustainable development.