Developing countries must build the case against fresh proposals to liberalize trade at the Bali conference, which is scheduled for December, civil society representatives said.
"The proposals, which have been put forward by developed countries, call for liberalization in areas of interest to them, rather than addressing developing-country concerns," said Deborah James of the Our World Is Not For Sale network.
Our World Is Not For Sale is a coalition of organizations and social movements that focuses on "fighting the current model of corporate globalization embodied in the global trading system".
Our World Is Not For Sale organized a session at the Symposium entitled Protecting policy space for development: Corporate globalization and the World Trade Organization. Ms. James said that the adverse impact of proposals for trade facilitation would outweigh any benefits that might be gained from other initiatives to be considered at the conference.
Mr. Jayant Dasgupta, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to WTO, warned that if the global economy did not take notice, the negotiating space for developing countries to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations with agreements that benefited them "may not be available".
Other speakers were Georgios Altintzis of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sanya Reid Smith of Third World Network, and Kinda Mohamadieh of the Arab NGO Network for Development.
There was broad agreement that as time moved on, developed countries were making fewer concessions, and developing countries were being asked to make more concessions, to secure the next trade round.
Previous rounds of trade liberalization had led to unbalanced growth in trade, with developing countries' imports increasing and their balances of payments deteriorating, speakers said.
They also warned about the proposed Trade in Services Agreement, which called for common standards in services, a level playing field for foreign and domestic investors, and neutrality between the public and private sectors.
Private provision of key utilities such as water in developing and developed countries had led to cuts in services and in quality in a way that "discriminates against poorer people", said Mr. Altintzis of the International Trade Union Confederation.