Stories written by Isolda Agazzi
Isolda Agazzi is a journalist with IPS, covering the United Nations, the WTO and international affairs. She lives in Geneva, where she also writes for Swiss and other international media in English, French and Italian. She holds a master’s degree in international relations and for more than 15 years has worked in international cooperation for donor agencies and NGOs, mainly in Switzerland and North Africa. She has taught in several universities, in Italy and elsewhere.

EU to Ease Trade Rules for Poor Countries

The EU is due to adopt a simplified set of rules of origins for developing countries exports. Particular relaxations are foreseen for the least developed countries (LDCs), but the rules may mainly profit the strongest of them.

(l-r) Flassbeck and Panitchpakdi: Countries should allow wages to increase to boost domestic demand. Credit: isolda Agazzi/IPS

TRADE: It’s the End of the Export-Led Growth Model, Says UNCTAD

While the recovery from the financial and economic meltdown remains fragile in especially the developed world, the outlook for Africa inspires optimism, according to UNCTAD. The agency also believes the crisis might be the death- knell for the export-led economic growth model -- especially African countries should leave it behind.

Claudine Sigam: Natural resource dependence puts states at risk of the "Dutch disease". Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

AFRICA: “Free Trade in Natural Resources Bad for Development”

While some believe that restrictions on natural resource exports should be done away with, this could cause an increase in such exports that would be detrimental to the environment and bad for development.

Hans Hogerzeil: Patented ARVs are the biggest public health challenge. Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

HEALTH: Intellectual Property Rights Remain A Barrier to Drugs

Intellectual property (IP) rights are a key reason for high medicine prices, rendering such medicines unaffordable and therefore out of reach for poor people. While mechanisms exist to circumvent IP, poor countries have been browbeaten into adopting stringent IP laws.

Richard Laing: There is considerable concern about ACTA after the recent seizures of legitimate generic drugs in Europe. Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

HEALTH: East African Laws Confuse Fake and Generic Drugs – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) agrees that the anti-counterfeit legislation that has been adopted or that is under consideration in East Africa threatens the accessibility of affordable generic medicines.

Karin Ulmer: We need an EbA for all African countries. Credit: Karin Ulmer

AFRICA: “Everything but Arms Deal Doesn’t Benefit Enough People”

The Everything but Arms trade initiative, which provides preferential treatment to poor countries, benefits only a limited range of people in the target populations. It should also be expanded to more countries, civil society organisations say.

WEST AFRICA: New Cocoa Agreement Is a Sweet One, Producers Say

The new international cocoa agreement will provide a positive shake-up in the cocoa market and ensure better prices for stakeholders, including small farmers.

Dick Nyeko: "I don't buy it that developing countries can't comply with international trade standards." Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

AFRICA: “Help Small Fishers to Fish Less, Earn More”

Sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures are a headache for African fish exporters but aid for trade may help small-scale fisherpersons to meet these standards.

Ancharaz: To force African countries to access climate change money through conditional World Bank loans is unfair as they did not cause the problem. Credit:

AFRICA: Climate Change Assistance so Near and Yet so Far

Technology transfer and aid for trade could assist least developed countries (LDCs) suffering the effects of climate change. But negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are not helping to make this a reality, while aid for trade lands up at the wrong institutions, such as the World Bank.

Supachai Panitchpakdi: "LDCs may not be able to depend on commodities export only." Credit: UNCTAD

ECONOMY: “G20 Meeting Should Address Plight of Poorest States”

The Group of 20 should show its concern about those that the global economic crisis "is leaving behind" by putting the plight of least developed countries on the agenda at its meeting later this month.

Panellists at the first day of the UNCTAD public symposium. Credit: Patrick Bertshmann/UNCTAD

WORLD: “Poor Countries Should Have a Seat at G20 Table”

The global economic crisis highlighted the necessity of transforming global economic governance. But least developed countries (LDCs) have little voice in this process. It is time they are allowed a seat at the meetings of the Group of 20 industrialised and emerging economies.

Disillusioned: Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD, and Jean Feyder, president of UNCTAD

WORLD: Markets Can’t Self-Regulate; State Should Step In – UNCTAD

The Washington Consensus is dead and the state must play a new role in development. The triple crises – economy, food and climate – show the need for a new developmental model as export-led growth and financial speculation in agricultural markets have proven to be disastrous.

Agnes Mbuvi from Ebukanga village near Lake Victoria is one of Kenya's growing number of farmers using green "push-pull" technology.  Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

EAST AFRICA: Green Agriculture Growing in Leaps and Bounds

Organic agriculture using natural farming methods rather than fertilisers and pesticides has made significant gains in African countries – not just among farmers but among consumers too.

Kenyan farmers attending training on so-called push-pull natural farming methods. Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

AFRICA: Foreign Investors Safeguarded From Obligations to Locals

Parts of the Tana Delta on Kenya’s northern coastline are being leased to foreigners to grow food and bio-fuels for export. Civil society organisations are worried about such deals as they are done without public consultation while safeguarding investors from requirements that could benefit local communities, such as technology transfer.

Q&A: Why Poorest African Countries Should Not Sign the EPAs

It is a "million dollar question" why African least developed countries (LDCs) would enter into economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with the EU as what remains of especially their agricultural markets will be overrun with subsidised European produce.

Dr El Hadji Diouf: Due to lack of political will, the EPA negotiations will not be suspended. Credit:  Aida Diop/IPS

Q&A: EPAs Are Still Not Developmental, Despite EU Promises

The contentious trade deals known as the economic partnership agreements (EPAs) will in their current form not do African countries any good as they still do not take those countries’ development needs into consideration, despite such an undertaking by the European Union (EU).

TRADE: Whither African Cotton Producers After Brazil’s Success?

African cotton-producing countries hope that Brazil’s intended retaliation after its success at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) dispute settlement body will have a positive spin-off for them but seem reticent about pursuing a similar course of action against the U.S. for its continued use of subsidies in cotton production.

TRADE: “Development More Important than Quick Conclusion of Doha”

Governments expressed the will at the seventh ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to finish the Doha Round of trade negotiations as soon as possible. But the Africa Group still deems development to be a more important priority than a speedy conclusion.

TRADE: Africa Should be Prioritised at WTO Ministerial

African countries are ready to conclude the Doha Round on the basis of current proposals, but warn against any attempt to renegotiate them at the seventh ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that opens in Geneva today. Meanwhile, the Africa Trade Network demands a moratorium on the Doha talks.

TRADE: “African States Need Advice Body Outside WTO for Talks”

Since before the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995, two groups of people have confronted each other: supporters of trade liberalisation, who regard the pursuit of growth as paramount, and opponents of trade liberalisation, who see unfettered trade as the cause of many socio-economic problems.

TRADE: Kenya Faces Job Losses, Collapsing Sectors in Wake of Doha

The consequences of the Doha Round of trade talks for larger developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa could include job losses and deindustrialisation if a new study forecasting how Kenya is set to be affected is anything to go by.

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