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CLA PERSPECTIVE ON THE WTO MEETINGS
CLA PERSPECTIVE ON THE WTO MEETINGS
The future of libraries of all kinds could be affected by a series of
international trade treaties that are currently under discussion. The
important meeting discussing these trade agreements is the WTO
Conference in Seattle beginning November 30, 1999. CLA, ALA and IFLA
representatives will be there to defend the interests of libraries and
value of the public sector.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Seattle on
November 30, 1999 begins the Millennium Round of negotiations. The
Ministerial Conference will set the agenda for negotiations which are
expected to last three years. The previous Uruguay Round ended in 1994
after seven years of negotiations. The General Agreement on Trade in
Services (GATS) implemented at that time exempted services supplied in
exercise of governmental authority but ambiguously excluded from the
definition of governmental authority any service supplied on a
basis, not in competition with one or more service suppliers.
As part of the current Millennium Round, there are proposals to expand
GATS from a bottom-up agreement which requires all services covered to
listed in the Agreement to a top-down agreement where all services are
included unless specifically exempted. Libraries are not included in
current GATS Agreement and will most certainly be included in the new
Agreement unless specifically exempted. To date, the Canadian
has not released its position paper on the WTO negotiations but Minister
Pettigrew has been quoted that Canada will not seek exemptions.
Libraries, museums, and archives, as well as health services and
are potentially affected by the World Trade Organization Millennium
specifically relating to the General Agreement on Trade in Services. The
following areas are of concern:
a) Proposed changes to GATS will open up all aspects of the economy
foreign competition, including libraries.
b) Privatization of libraries may result from the proposals for
expansion of the GATS Agreement.
c) Possible guarantee of the right of foreign, for-profit library
services and suppliers to set-up in Canada and compete against
publicly-funded libraries. Canada would then have to offer them national
treatment, i.e. foreign corporations would have to be treated as well or
better than any national supplier. Since the Agreement will cover
subsidies, these corporations might be able to argue they should receive
equal funding from the government.
d) Sub-Central governments, provincial, municipal, regional
governments and their various Boards and Crown Corporations, would be
included in any agreements agreed to by the Government of Canada (Part
Scope and Definition, Article 1, Clause 3a of the existing agreement).
e) The Market Access (Part II, Specific Commitments, Article XVI)
two clauses that ban (e) measures which restrict or require specific
of legal entity or joint venture through which a service supplier may
supply a service; and (f) limitations on the participation of foreign
capital in terms of the maximum percentage limit on foreign shareholding
the total value of individual or aggregate foreign investment.
These two clauses could prevent local communities from keeping their
library services in the public or non-profit sector.
f) Professional standards could come under challenge as a trade
barrier. Article VI of the GATS deals with how domestic regulation
have to be changed to accommodate the overarching goal of trade
liberalization in services. The Council for Trade in Service is
to set up review panels to assess whether qualification requirements and
procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements constitute
unnecessary barriers to trade in services.
CLA perspective in this area is based on resolutions at the 1998 Annual
General Meeting on the MAI and at the 1999 Annual General Meeting on the
Libraries are unique social organizations dedicated to providing the
broadest range of information and ideas to the public regardless of age,
religion, social status, race, gender or language. The CLA Intellectual
Freedom Statement and the CLA Information and Telecommunication Access
Principles are the basis for assuring that the goals of diversity and
access are achieved.
Public libraries provide free circulation of books and material,
services and other services to all residents of their jurisdiction. The
UNESCO Public Library Manifesto (attached) provides an eloquent
of the role and importance of public libraries.
Post-secondary libraries provide access to the great intellectual and
research traditions in concert with the vision and mission of their
School libraries provide books, materials and training to support the
1. To strengthen opposition to those WTO policies which may
affect the public sector in Canada, specifically those affecting
The WTO meetings in Seattle afford an opportunity to build links with
opponents at both the national and international level who support
libraries and a strong public sector.
2. To advocate for a delay of the Millennium Round until there has
been a sufficient evaluation of the impact of the Uruguay Round and
on environmental, labour and social service standards.
3. To promote the importance of libraries as the central public
institutions for the collection and distribution of the historical,
cultural and intellectual record of civilization in the service of the
public and their educational institutions. Libraries enrich and inspire
through providing access to the broadest possible range of information
ideas while encouraging democratic discussion and social participation.
4. To participate in an active international alliance of libraries
through a development and cohesion of joint policies and educational and
5. To make links with other organizations, particularly, but not
restricted to, the cultural sector in recognition of our common
in the promotion of libraries and cultural institutions as central to
enrichment and democratic foundations of society.
1. The Canadian Library Association supports and joins with other
public sector organizations such as museums, archives, public education
institutions and public health services in declaring the importance of
services to the health, richness and level of equity so far established
2. CLA supports the creation of an exemption for library services.
is opposed to the possible outcome of permitting the private sector to
compete with libraries, educational institutions and health services, as
that may undermine their tax-supported status.
3. Libraries are part of the cultural sector. They are involved in
encouraging the development and promotion of cultural products,
particularly literature, and the preservation and dissemination of those
products. Libraries should be part of exemptions for culture and
support and be part of any possible separate treaty which allows special
consideration for cultural goods and services in international trade.
1. CLA should work with other Canadian cultural groups such as the
Writers Union of Canada and the Conference of the Arts as well as other
national and international cultural groups to create alliances for
achieving recognition and protection for the development of regional and
domestic cultural products. The objective of such an alliance is the
creation of cultural diversity and the encouragement of multiple voices.
2. CLA will concentrate on a separate agreement/exemption for
libraries and cultural organizations while continuing to push for
protection of the public sector as broadly defined.
Approved by CLA Executive Council
The current General Agreement on Trade in Services is located at
Background papers on the proposed changes can be found at
Canadian Library Association
200 Elgin Street, Suite 602
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K2P 1L5
Telephone 613-232-9625 ext 306
email: vwhitmell _at__ cla.ca
Listeninformationen unter http://www.inetbib.de.