The “fragility” of the World Trade Organization’s ‘Bali package’ was brought into the open at the weekend meeting in Sydney, Australia, of trade ministers from the world’s 20 major economies (G20).
Framing rules at the World Trade Organization for maintaining public stockholding programmes for food security in developing countries is not an easy task, and for Ambassador Jayant Dasgupta, former Indian trade envoy to the WTO, “this is even more so when countries refuse to acknowledge the real problem and hide behind legal texts and interpretations in a slanted way to suit their interests.”
African countries are coming under strong pressure from the United States and the European Union to reverse the decision adopted by their trade ministers to implement the World Trade Organization’s trade facilitation agreement on a “provisional” basis.
As industrialised countries celebrate the World Trade Organisation’s Bali accord, the developing and the least-developed countries are forced to carry their battle to another day after securing only half-baked results and grandiose promises, said several trade ministers.
The World Trade Organisation’s ninth ministerial meeting at Bali, Indonesia has morphed into a fierce battle between the countries seeking social safety nets for hundreds of millions of poor people and those insisting on having advanced import-facilitation programmes in the developing countries on par with the industrialised nations.
The decisions of the United States and the European Union to demand implementation of controversial labour standards in Bangladesh following the Sawa industrial tragedy pose a serious threat to the rule-based global trading system, says Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a human rights lawyer and the general secretary of the global rights network World YWCA, knows what it is like to struggle against poverty and violence: she herself comes from a poor family in Magaya village in Murewa district, which lies northeast of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.
As parties to the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) begin their second preparatory conference in Geneva on Monday, representatives of civil society and several countries have decided to bring the festering nuclear issue and its potential humanitarian consequences to the centre stage.
Industrialised countries have mounted an unprecedented campaign to stop the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development from providing policy advice to the poorest countries in Africa and across the globe.
Trade ministers of the BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa – say that at the G20 trade ministerial summit later this month in Mexico they will try to ensure that attempts by industrialised countries to frame a new trade agenda do not drown development-led trade liberalisation and the World Trade Organization talks.
Brazil and South Africa have experienced a widespread contraction of their manufacturing industries, with the latter suffering massive unemployment as well, thanks to the rampant volatility and misalignment of dominant global currencies like the dollar, trade experts from the two countries say.
Trade envoys of India, Brazil, and South Africa have warned industrialised countries not to hijack the Doha multilateral trade negotiations by adopting the controversial plurilateral approach to liberalise trade in services.
India, Brazil, and South Africa, the international grouping for promoting international cooperation among the three countries known as IBSA, along with China and several other developing countries, have denounced the ongoing attempts to craft an exclusive, plurilateral agreement to liberalise trade in services without concluding the multilateral trade negotiations of the World Trade Organization.
The convergence of leading countries from the global South - China, India, Brazil and South Africa, among others - to assist the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere constitutes a new "dynamic" in the emerging global economic partnerships, says the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
When the G20 leaders meet for their fifth summit in Cannes, France, on Thursday, they will be confronted with several worsening global economic and trade issues. Among them is how to strengthen the international trading system and how to overcome the developmental deficit that continues to create an uneven playing field for poor countries.