Montana Model United Nations 2000
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World Trade Organization

It is the task of the World Trade Organization to deal with the flows of commerce between nations. It is the lone international organization in this field, which has been generally resistant to regulation. The job of the W.T.O. is not to regulate per se, but rather to provide a forum in which member nations can discuss international trade and tariffs. All of this discussion is aimed at lowering and removing barriers to trade and commerce between nations, thereby enhancing economic development for the members. Imbalances of trade due to unethical business behavior also becomes the business of the W.T.O. if the specific case falls under the W.T.O.'s charter. Currently the W.T.O. has 138 member nations, with Oman soon to be gaining admittance as the 139th.

Important Note: This committee's format will be slightly different from the standard model. The World Trade Organization does not consider policy in the general terms that United Nations committees do; rather, policy is governed by precedent, and decisions made by the W.T.O. in certain situations result in policy via this route. So, instead of submitting resolutions generally on the subject of, for example, multinational corporations, each delegate will instead submit a resolution designed to engender a trade agreement between two countries in dispute. A specific example will be provided for each topic, and it will be that case that the W.T.O. will attempt to mediate.

 

Topic 1: Genetically Engineered Foods.

On the cutting edge of technology is the engineering of food crops for higher yield
and greater resistance to disease and insects. Many herald these advances as the answer to the
worldwide war on hunger. There are still many problems with these new foods though; these include
questions of safety and the expense involved for small countries to purchase them. Many companies make
the new crops non-seed-producing so that countries must purchase more seeds every year. With these
problems, is this a viable solution to the hunger problem and what does it mean for international trade?

Specific case: Currently there is a major debate regarding the sale of genetically engineered crops to

Africa. The companies interested in selling these crops to African farmers want to sell seeds that have

been genetically altered to be only annuals, not perennials, thus forcing the buyers to buy new seeds every

year. The W.T.O. should consider this problem during the course of debate.

Topic 2: Labor and Internationalization.

A consequence of the growing internationalism of trade and the interdependency of economics
is the shifting of companies toward cheaper labor. This is source of much debate within industrialized
countries that are losing jobs. What does this trend mean for the future of international trade? Is this only
a temporary trend or will it continue and shift the focus of the worlds markets? A potential threat is
posed to the viability of international trade if major nations feel they are being hurt by it.

Specific case: Western economies have been experiencing significant labor deficits as multinational

corporations have shifted the production of their products overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor.

The W.T.O. should consider the ramifications of this question with special attention to China and the

poor countries of the Pacific Rim.

Topic 3: Regulating Multinational Corporations*

Grand changes are the rule of the times in our world. The end of the Cold War was the beginning of a series of major alterations of the everyday business of the world, and we are still having that experience today, nearly ten years after the fall of the United Soviet Socialist Republics. The most important change for you as delegates is the globalization of the economy. No modern technoeconomy can stand on a strictly national basis, because no nation today has all of the resources needed to function alone. The Cold War, especially during the times of massive defense spending in the 1980's, was fertile ground for extremely powerful corporations to form. They too have found it impossible or unpalatable to remain contained in their country of origin, and so have spread out to become what are called "multinational corporations." The name is self-explanatory, except that it may be useful to define the term "corporation" so that all delegates will know what it means. For that reason, this definition from the American Heritage Dictionary (4th Edition) will be used: "A body that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members."
These multinational corporations are the giants of international trade. They introduce vast flows of wealth into and out of nations, transforming raw goods into finished consumer products and offering services to consumers around the globe. However, the business that these corporations conduct is not always viewed as acceptable in all countries. For example, many multinational banks store money for customers in countries where the banking laws favor privacy and shelter. Other corporations use labor that is cheaper in less developed countries to stay competitive or to make more profit. Still others manufacture products for which the raw materials are hard to find or are environmentally sound to acquire, and will mine, harvest, drill for, etc. those materials in countries with little or no environmental regulation.
One of the most important areas of commerce in the present world economy is that of computing technology. American and European software manufacturers have been losing huge potential sales to software pirates in many countries with no intellectual property rights. Certain major software companies are feeling the loss of revenue; they include Microsoft, Sony, Sun, and other pillar corporations of the high-tech industry. Some of these corporations are true multinationals, Sony being an excellent example; others are beginning to expand overseas as the demand for information technology increases outside the United States and Europe. For the purposes of our model, they feel that this situation has created an environment that handicaps their ability to conduct business, and the American delegation has brought forward their concern to the World Trade Organization, whose responsibility it is to maintain fair play in the international economic community. As delegates to the W.T.O., it will be your responsibility to resolve this issue. You will need to construct an agreement that will have a reasonable possibility of ratification by your governments, and that will maintain the economic freedom that it is the W.T.O.'s duty to uphold. This topic affects many countries, as software piracy is not at all limited to the United States internally and a few other highly publicized cases. And it is indirectly important for ALL delegations to maintain good relations with economically powerful countries, because of the new and profound role that international business has come to play in the world arena.


Web resources:
World Trade Organization: www.wto.org
Corporate Watch (non-profit watchdog): www.corpwatch.org
Essential Information (nonprofit watchdog): www.corpwatch.org
Software & Information Industry Association: www.spa.org
Federation Against Software Theft: www.fast.org.uk

As always, please make sure to thoroughly understand your government's position on the subject, as it will be your position as a delegate in this committee.


*This will be the resolutionless topic for the World Trade Organization. Do not prepare resolutions for this topic.

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