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Saturday, 4 December, 1999, 13:45 GMT
Anti-WTO protesters claim victory
Protesters outside jail
Protesters refused to leave Seattle jail until activists were released
Thousands of protesters have claimed victory as the World Trade Organisation failed to reach an agreement in Seattle.

The battle for free trade
Protesters from all walks of life - among them environmentalists, anarchists, union members and lobbyists from non-governmental organisations - took to the streets over the past week to make their concerns heard.

Police arrested some 600 protesters in demonstrations that played live on local television all week and made headlines around the world.

The talks ended with delegates from the 135-member WTO at loggerheads over reducing farm subsidies and introducing labour standards in developing countries.

The allegedly irresistible forces of corporate economic globalisation were stopped in their tracks

Lori Wallach of the Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
Activists said their actions deepened divisions between powerful industrialised nations and developing countries, which threatened not to sign a deal because they believed rich countries had shut them out of talks.

Zimbabwean delegate Yash Tandon appeared to confirm their claims.

"(The talks) failed mainly because the bigger players refused to take into account the concerns of Africa," he told the BBC.

"Africa this time found it necessary to say, 'If you are not going to take us seriously, then we are not going to be with you.'"

System under scrutiny

Boy against child labour
A boy holds a poster urging an end to child labour
Martin Khor, director of Third World Network, said: "The failure in Seattle to a large extent reflects the developing countries' unhappiness over how the system has not benefited them and how they have not been able to participate fully".

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizens' Global Trade Watch, said: "History has been made in Seattle as the allegedly irresistible forces of corporate economic globalisation were stopped in their tracks."

Environmental groups said the elusive deal would have boosted deforestation and led to greater trade in genetically modified foods.

"The collapse in Seattle affords the WTO the opportunity to take a new direction toward trade policies that work for the environment," said David Schorr of World Wildlife Fund.

'We won'

Santa protests
Santa Claus in an anti-WTO protest in the Philippines
Protester Sheila Richard said the WTO had to broaden its focus beyond economic issues.

"What I hoped is that the consciousness has been raised a little (by the protests)," she said.

"We won," said Tracy Katelman, an activist from the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment.

"We really disrupted it. We certainly created an atmosphere to make it difficult for them to work."

See also:

04 Dec 99 | Business
02 Dec 99 | Americas
02 Dec 99 | Americas
23 Nov 99 | Battle for Free Trade
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