WTO 2008-2012

Written by  //  July 16, 2012  //  Global economy, Trade & Tariffs  //  2 Comments

16 July
World Trade Report 2012
Trade and public policies: A closer look at non-tariff measures in the 21st century
Increased use of regulatory measures creates new challenges for the WTO, report says
(WTO Press Release) Non-tariff measures, such as regulatory standards for manufactured and agricultural goods, can have a significant impact on trade — possibly even more than tariffs — according to the latest edition of the WTO’s flagship publication published on 16 July 2012. Director-General Pascal Lamy said “a clear trend has emerged in which NTMs are less about shielding producers from import competition and more about the attainment of a broad range of public policy objectives.”
The World Trade Report 2012 examines why and how governments use non-tariff measures, including domestic regulation in services. Such measures can serve legitimate public policy goals, such as protecting the health of consumers, but they may also be used for protectionist purposes. The Report reveals how the expansion of global production chains and the growing importance of consumer concerns in richer countries affect the use of non-tariff measures. It also reports that such measures represent the main source of concerns for exporters.
The focus of the Report is on technical barriers to trade (TBT) regarding standards for manufactured goods, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures concerning food safety and animal/plant health, and domestic regulation in services.
27 June
How to Make Trade Easier By Robert B. Zoellick, Ahmad M. Al-Madani, Donald Kaberuka, Haruhiko Kuroda, Thomas Mirow, Luis A. Moreno (Project Syndicate) The world is now in the fourth year of the Great Recession. So far, the economies belonging to the World Trade Organization have resisted the kind of widespread protectionism that would make a bad situation much worse. But protectionist pressures are building as weary politicians hear more and more calls for economic nationalism.
EU, U.S., Japan seek further WTO steps over China rare earths
(Reuters) – The European Union, the United States and Japan on Wednesday requested a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) after failing to resolve a battle over China’s export restrictions on rare earth minerals.
25 June
Global trade justice groups ask WTO to disband biased expert panel on “Future of Trade”
Another letter from the Our World is Not for Sale network, endorsed by the Council of Canadians and dozens of other global fair trade and trade justice organizations, this one to WTO Director General Pascal Lamy on his WTO Panel on Defining the Future of Trade. Like the OWINFS letter to G20 leaders last week, we insist that only democratically elected WTO member states should decide the future of global trade talks. The letter also expresses dismay that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was excluded from the WTO panel.
20 June
G20 pledges to support economic growth, free trade
(The Economic Times of India) “We underline the importance of an open, predictable, rules-based, transparent multilateral trading system and are committed to ensure the centrality of the World Trade Organization (WTO),” it added. The leaders extended by one year their vow not to put up new trade barriers at the G20 summit and pledged to roll back any new protectionist measure that may have arisen, including new export restrictions and WTO inconsistent measures to stimulate exports. The G20 nations also reiterated their commitment to work towards concluding e Doha round negotiations of the WTO, including outcomes in specific areas where progress is possible, such as trade facilitation, and other issues of concern for least developed countries. However, the leaders did not give any deadline for the conclusion of the stalled Doha round of the WTO talks.
24 April
Red ink holds UN trade challenge at bay
By Vijay Prashad
(Asia Times) The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) started its 13th conference at the weekend in Doha, Qatar. Delegates walking around the convention center had to negotiate a 10-meter Louise Bourgeois statue of a spider, a fitting image for a meeting where powerful countries have begun to spin their webs into which will tumble the unwitting. … The main differences between the G-77 + China and the JZ/EU groupings is evident in two areas: (1) the role of the state in development, (2) the question of financial regulation. Buried in the Accra Accord (the final document of UNCTAD XII in 2008) is an indication of the philosophical difference between the South and the North on state policy and development. The North prefers the “market” as the conductor of social affairs. The South is keen on State intervention to frame the market’s operations. … Certain countries protected themselves from the worst effects of the financial crisis by using “macro-prudential measures designed to manage capital inflows, such as taxes on certain inflows, minimum holding periods, and currency-specific requirements” (p 26). The IMF does not take an adverse position on these policies and frameworks, but sees them as playing “an important role in ameliorating the impact of volatile capital flows on financial stability”. Nothing of the kind is being permitted in the UNCTAD draft. The JZ Group struck down this common-sense statement, “Adequate regulation and supervision of financial markets, and debt management, can play important roles with regard to crisis prevention and resolution.” An IMF subservient to the North is allowed latitude to praise macro-prudential tools, but these are not to be championed by UNCTAD.
13 April
Lamy names panel to identify 21st century trade challenges
(WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy today (13 April 2012) announced the composition of a panel of WTO stakeholders [WTO Panel on Defining the Future of Trade] he has charged with examining and analysing challenges to global trade opening in the 21st century.
10 February
Davos 2012 on Doha Conclusion: Don’t bury Doha just yet. But understand that it’s in a deep freeze unless countries find the political will and energy to revive it. Meanwhile, countries will continue to pursue the low-hanging fruit of bilateral negotiations because they yield quick results, also continuing the effort in the WTO to sign off on those aspects of the Doha agenda on which they are able to reach consensus.


17 December
Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference
(WTO) In parallel to the Plenary Session, where Ministers made prepared statements, three Working Sessions took place with the following themes: “Importance of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO”, “Trade and Development” and “Doha Development Agenda”. The Conference approved the accessions of Russia, Samoa and Montenegro
18 July
World Bank chief blames Barack Obama for Doha trade talks deadlock
Robert Zoellick speaks out amid fears the Doha round could fail, leading to a new era of protectionism (The Guardian) The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, blamed Barack Obama has for the deadlock in global trade talks and called on the White House to show the leadership that would bring almost a decade of fruitless negotiations to a successful conclusion. Amid growing concern that a complete failure in the stymied Doha round could result in a new era of protectionism, Zoellick accused the United States of peddling “excuses” when officials in Washington called the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) talks structurally flawed. …
13 June
WTO scrambles to salvage Doha talks
(FT) Even a plan for a simple standalone agreement to give more privileges to the world’s poorest nations is foundering on a clash of interests
Talks ignore global value chains – WTO
(Independent Online, South Africa) The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has launched a “made in the world” initiative in a bid to ensure that trade policies and regulations more accurately reflect the fact that traded goods are rarely made in just one “country of origin”. Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the body that sets the rules governing international trade, hopes the initiative will lead to better-informed and smarter trade negotiations. At a recent function to launch the initiative Lamy bemoaned the fact that although the nature of international trade had changed significantly in recent years, trade data had not. … Thus, in 2009 the US had a trade deficit in iPhones with China of $1.9 billion (R12.9bn at Friday’s exchange rate). However, the single largest portion of the value of the iPhones being shipped from China to the US had been created in Japan. Germany and South Korea were also responsible for considerably more of the iPhones’ value than China. China only accounted for $73.5 million of the $1.9bn value of that trade. Japan accounted for $685m, Germany $341m and South Korea $259m, while the rest of the world accounted for $543m.
11 May
LDCs Seek Mini Trade Deal
(IPS) – Leaders from the Least Developed Countries are making a strong push in Istanbul for a mini trade deal for their 48 impoverished nations – ahead of any worldwide agreement under the Doha Round. Leaders from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are said to be looking for some kind of deal to fall in place by the end of the year – they aim to secure a pledge of commitment towards that goal at the Fourth U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) under way in Istanbul this week. The conference is held every ten years, and the LDC leaders consider this a critical moment to secure their demands.
3 May
Doha Round doomed?
(National Post) Sadly, after 10 years and countless disappointments, the talks remain bogged down, mired in complexity and endless bickering. The WTO Secretary-General, Pascal Lamy, normally given to cautiously positive assessments, stated last week that there were “unbridgeable gaps” and that the situation facing the round was “grave.” Could multilateralism in trade be dead? To some, this is just a realistic appraisal of life in the WTO and the daunting task of mustering consensus in a world body composed of more than 150 member governments. Consensus-building is limited by the enormous complexity of the items on the table, mind numbing in their detail, scope and depth, more so than any other in the annals of international diplomacy. After Doha Why the Negotiations Are Doomed and What We Should Do About It By Susan C. Schwab (Foreign Affairs May/June 2011)
30 April
Jagdish Bhaghwati:
The Doha Round’s premature obituary |
The Doha Round and World Trade Organisation need countries to maintain their membership and trade negotiations. The Doha Round, the first multilateral trade negotiation conducted under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation, is at a critical stage. Now in their 10th year, with much negotiated, the talks need a final political nudge, lest Doha – and hence the WTO – disappear from the world’s radar screen. Indeed, the danger is already real: when I was in Geneva a year ago and staying at the upscale Mandarin Oriental, I asked the concierge how far away the WTO was. He looked at me and asked: “Is the World Trade Organisation a travel agency?” The threat of irrelevance is understood by leading statesmen, who have committed themselves to putting their shoulders to the wheel. British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have unequivocally endorsed the recommendation of the High-level Expert Group on Trade, which Peter Sutherland and I co-chair, that we ought to abandon the Doha Round if it is not concluded by the end of this year.


On Clean Energy, China Skirts Rules Heavily subsidized land and loans for an exporter like Sunzone are the rule, not the exception, for clean energy businesses in Changsha and across China, Chinese executives said in interviews over the last three months. But this kind of help violates World Trade Organization rules banning virtually all subsidies to exporters, and could be successfully challenged at the agency’s tribunals in Geneva … W.T.O. rules allow countries to subsidize goods and services in their home markets, as long as those subsidies do not discriminate against imports. But the rules prohibit export subsidies, to prevent governments from trying to help their companies gain in world markets. The W.T.O. also requires countries to declare all national, state and local subsidies every two years, so that if one country’s exports surge suspiciously, other countries’ trade officials can easily check to see if that product is being subsidized. But China has virtually ignored the requirement since joining the W.T.O. 16 August W.T.O. Rules Against European Union on Tariffs for Electronics “This ruling affirms the principle that changes in technology are not an excuse to apply new duties to products covered by the Information Technology Agreement”. 2 June EU uses WTO China Trade Policy Review to encourage Beijing towards continued reform and greater transparency … the EU has called on China to shoulder its responsibilities in the multilateral trading system and stick to WTO rules and its accession commitments such as non-discrimination. For example, China now needs to take on an increased leadership role, especially in the Doha talks, that reflects its global economic weight. The EU has also expressed concerns about a slow-down in reform and less transparency. Furthermore, it has submitted more than 200 technical questions to China on many aspects of its trade policy. 23 March W.T.O. Affirms Ruling of Improper Airbus Aid The World Trade Organization ruled on Tuesday that the European plane maker Airbus received improper subsidies for its $13 billion A380 superjumbo jet and several other airplanes, hurting Boeing, its American rival, industry officials in the United States and Europe said. The ruling affirmed the organization’s interim findings last September in response to a longstanding complaint by the United States over European support for Airbus. 15 March China Uses Rules On Global Trade To Its Advantage China’s exports are soaring even as other major economies struggle to recover from recession, but evidence is mounting that Beijing is skillfully using inconsistencies in international trade rules to spur its own economy at expense of others, including United States; it is engaged in two-pronged effort to maintain its export dominance by fighting protectionism among its trade partners and holding down value of its own currency; Beijing is exploiting a fundamental difference between two major international bodies: the World Trade Organization, which wields strict, enforceable penalties for countries that impede trade, and the International Monetary Fund.


4 December Redesigning the World Trade Organization for the Twenty-first Century This book explains why institutional reform of the WTO is needed at this critical juncture in world history and provides innovative, practical proposals for modernizing the WTO to enable it to respond to the challenges of the twenty-first century. Contributors focus on five critical areas: transparency, decision- and rule-making procedures, internal management structures, participation by non-governmental organizations and civil society and relationships with regional trade agreements. The Vanishing WTO By Marc Levinson, Senior Fellow for International Business, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) (CFR) …  A year ago, economic policymakers around the world were terrified that the economic downturn would lead to trade wars as countries sought to protect their flagging manufacturing sectors. So far, the feared descent into tit-for-tat protectionism has not occurred. …  The WTO still matters enough that governments around the world want to avoid the stigma of being branded a trade-law violator by a WTO legal panel. The WTO also deserves credit for dealing effectively with complaints of unfair trade practices by one country against another. … Although the WTO legal process can be as ponderous as that in any U.S. court, there is no question that it has helped defuse problems that once would have led to diplomatic fireworks. As a cop on the trade beat, and as a meeting place for trade negotiators, the WTO serves its purpose. Where it has fallen short is in accomplishing the more ambitious goal it was assigned when it began back in 1995: expanding trade. 14 September America, China and protectionism – How strong is Barack Obama’s belief in free trade? (The Economist) ALTHOUGH Barack Obama alarmed free traders last year with protectionist-sounding pronouncements on the campaign trail, such as one about the need to renegotiate NAFTA, optimists among them dismissed this as mere posturing designed to placate restive trade unions. Yet a decision by the White House to impose punitive tariffs (35% for the first year, falling by five percentage points a year, to 25% in the third year) on Chinese-made pneumatic tyres now raises serious doubts about Mr Obama’s commitment to free trade. 3 September Will Obama Steer New Course in Delhi and Pittsburgh? By Eli Clifton WASHINGTON, Sep 3 (IPS) – A “mini-ministerial” meeting has been convened by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Delhi to help member countries draft a roadmap to conclude the troubled Doha round and set the stage for the G20 later this month and the WTO ministerial in Geneva in November. 27 July The collapse in world trade has stopped, but there is no sign of a recovery WORLD trade has been one of the worst casualties of the global economic slowdown and the source of some particularly startling figures. Towards the end of last year trade all but collapsed. According to the World Bank, the value of exports from a sample of 65 countries accounting for 97% of world trade rose by 20.2% in September, compared with a year earlier. But by November exports were worth 17.3% less than a year earlier, before slumping by a whopping 32.6% in the year to January. In March the managers of South Korea’s Busan port, long one of the world’s busiest, said that it had run out of space to store nearly 32,000 empty containers. The Baltic Dry Index, which measures demand for the ships that transport bulk goods such as iron ore or coal, fell from 11,793 at the end of May last year to a pitiful 663 in early December. 9 July [G8] Leaders seek trade deal by 2010 The world’s biggest economies agreed to conclude a comprehensive trade deal in 2010, in the latest attempt to revive the stalled Doha round and boost the world economy (FT) Rich countries gathered for the G8 summit signed a deal with 10 other large economies – including India, China and Brazil – that trade talks must resume urgently, with a deadline set for completion next year. The agreement in the Italian town of L’Aquila will be hailed by world leaders as a decisive moment in reviving the global economy and a statement of intent to conclude a trade round which began in Doha in 2001. But there will be widespread cynicism over whether such commitments are credible. Every G8 summit – not to mention other international summits – ends with leaders paying lip service to finalising a trade round. The U.S. says China’s plan to equip all personal computers with Web filtering software is a violation of its WTO obligations. 24 June As China Stirs Economy, Some See Protectionism Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative, announced on Tuesday that the United States and the European Union had filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization accusing China of limiting exports like bauxite and zinc, of which China is one of the world’s largest producers, to give an unfair advantage to Chinese manufacturers that use the materials. The policies could help ensure that China’s economy continues to grow, but at the risk of increasing global trade tensions at a sensitive time when more countries are resorting to administrative measures to restrict trade and the W.T.O. has warned against protectionism. 1 May Wheat holds up well as global exporting collapses (FAO report) “According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the volume of all goods and services moving in world trade in 2009 will be down by 9% from 2008, which is the sharpest reduction since World War II. Developed nations will suffer the greatest declines, with their export volume projected to drop by at least 10%. Developing nations, including some that provide principal outlets for export shipments of grains, will see export decreases of no more than 2% to 3%, the WTO forecasts.” (World-Grain.com free subscription) 24 April WTO’s Lamy says Doha round relaunch awaits U.S. (Forbes/Reuters) – A renewed effort to finish long-running world trade talks cannot begin until the United States is ready to engage, the head of the World Trade Organization said on Friday. 23 April U.S. to push on Doha, Bush trade deals: Kirk WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is committed to concluding long-running world trade talks and wants to move forward on trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea negotiated by former President George W. Bush, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Thursday.


31 October WASHINGTON: NO BREAKTHROUGH EXPECTED IN TRADE TALKS (RCI) A Canadian trade official says a breakthrough in world trade talks is unlikely to happen before US President Bush leaves office in January. But Don Stephenson, a Canadian assistant deputy trade minister, says a meeting of world leaders next month in Washington to discuss the global economic crisis might be able to restore some momentum to the so-called Doha trade talks. Many leaders have said the talks could help restore confidence and alleviate the current global economic crisis. 31 July Seeking a trade deal (Globe & Mail) The Canadians who participated in the Doha process, including Trade Minister Michael Fortier, say they will now turn to negotiating bilateral agreements with individual countries. That is a smart decision, and a first priority should be to get an agreement in place with the European Union. Canada has been a laggard in negotiating trade and investment deals with other countries, and we need to catch up. But we also must fully support any attempt to restart multilateral talks, as these broad agreements have the potential for the greatest positive impact on the economies of the world. The progress made in the Doha round is certainly worth preserving. To gain credibility on the international trade scene, Canada must also rethink its position on supply management, our outdated system of marketing boards that provide protection for domestic producers of eggs, poultry and dairy products. Doha collapse to cost farmers $10M daily Canada’s position on supply mangement no help: CAFTA OTTAWA – Canadian farm producers not covered by supply management boards said yesterday the collapse of the WTO’s Doha round talks will cost them close to $10-million a day in lost potential sales, or $3.65-billion a year. Meanwhile, they add that Canada’s position at the Doha talks — that the country’s supply management boards were to remain untouched as part of any trade liberalization talks — did not aid their case in trying to gain access to new global markets. China’s Shift on Food Was Key to Trade Impasse (NYT) China and India have seldom shared the same views on free trade in recent years, but they were on the same side when the talks collapsed here on Tuesday because China made an abrupt about-face, signaling it may have leavened its interest in free trade with concerns about food security. July 30 China Picks Its Side In World Trade Talks (alibaba.com) BEIJING — China’s willingness to let the latest round of global trade talks collapse is a sign of how the emerging giant’s ties with other developing nations are becoming increasingly important, as it sees fewer future gains from negotiations with rich countries like the U.S. The talks at the World Trade Organization in Geneva foundered after member countries couldn’t agree on a proposal to allow developing nations to use special “safeguard” tariffs to shield their farmers from floods of low-priced imports. Wealthy nations led by the U.S. heaped blame on India and China for blocking a global deal over a narrow point. The poorer countries, chiefly India, in turn blasted the rich nations for coddling their farmers with subsidies at a time of record food prices. Doha talks collapse over farmer protection trigger Citing a collective failure, the World Trade Organization ended the the Doha round of talks on trade, now in its seventh year. Protection for Indian and Chinese farmers and the mechanism that would trigger those protections, though not a mainstay debate like banana imports in Europe, was said to be the rock upon which the talks foundered. Several ministers expressed surprise that the talks could be doomed by a technical question — although by one report, China and India were willing to compromise, but the U.S. was not. The New York Times (7/30) , Reuters (7/30) , Financial Times (7/30) 29 July L’impossible désaccord sur Doha Marcel Boyer, IEDM (Le Devoir) Le sort des négociations commerciales du cycle de Doha se jouera autour d’un accord prometteur, mais toujours partiel et fragile, entre les pays du Groupe des sept (États-Unis, Union européenne, Brésil, Inde, Australie, Chine, Japon). Les négociations se poursuivront exceptionnellement encore quelques heures. Why the Doha Round of talks finally died (Times online) The bricks are crumbling in the house of global trade and the Brics, those fashionable emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China, are crumbling, too, wracked by inflation, slackening growth and the flight of hot money. In Geneva, Kamal Nath, the Indian Trade Minister, was gritting his teeth, doing his best to justify a wrecking operation that has earned him brickbats from all round. He has brought to an end a seven-year struggle for a global trade agreement that would open borders and reduce subsidies and he knows it. Mr Nath’s problem was the wretched farmers, not the East Anglian sugar barons or the American cotton kings, so often the butt of abuse. There is another group of farmers who wallow in subsidies, wreck government budgets and who demand high tariff walls to keep out imports of cheaper food. These are India’s peasantry and their political power is being felt on a global scale. Mr Nath could not afford to ignore them: India’s rural population numbers 600 million, the last BJP Government was brought down for ignoring them and this Congress Party Government is unlikely to make that mistake. WTO Talks Fail in Ninth Day Over Farm Duties Impasse (Bloomberg) WTO talks have moved in fits and starts since November 2001 as industrialized and emerging markets clashed over how to open up trade. Lamy has estimated that a deal would add as much as $100 billion to the global economy at a time when slowing growth and soaring food and fuel prices are undercutting living standards around the world. CHRONOLOGY: Key dates in WTO’s Doha round (Reuters) – Talks to rescue a new world trade deal collapsed on Tuesday after ministers from some 35 countries failed to overcome divisions in nine days of intense talks. 27 July Visa offer adds to Doha momentum By Alan Beattie, World Trade Editor (FT) The European Union and the US have offered more temporary work visas for skilled professionals in a bid to maintain momentum in the so-called “Doha round” of trade talks, which made an unexpected spurt of progress on Friday. 25 July Hopes of reaching world trade deal revive at WTO GENEVA (Reuters) – Ministers hailed an emerging trade deal on Friday, as compromise proposals revitalized deadlocked talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The compromise emerged from a five-hour meeting of seven key WTO players looking for common ground in efforts to prise open markets for agricultural and industrial goods. The paper includes a further cut in the cap on contentious U.S. farm subsidies to $14.5 billion. It also changes proposals allowing developing countries to shield their farm sectors and some industrial goods from the full force of tariff cuts, which have been at the centre of this week’s deadlocked discussions. 24 July FACTBOX: Subsidy issues in WTO’s Doha round farm talks (Reuters) The farm talks are taking place on the basis of a draft text revised on July 10; [they] have three groups of topics — domestic support (subsidies), market access (tariffs) and export competition. (RCI) Thirty of the world’s leading trade negotiators are meeting at the World Trade Organization’s headquarters in a last-ditch to conclude a treaty to liberalize world trade. WTO chief Pascal Lamy called the conference to salvage the negotiations that began at Doha, Qatar, seven years ago. There was little sign of progress late Wednesday evening. The talks have been bogged down with differences between wealth and developing nations. The U.S. and EU have until now refused to give up farm subsidies and tariffs, and developing nations have declined up open up their markets to imported industrial products and financial services. At this latest round, the U.S. and EU have offered to reduce market-distorting subsidies to farmers and were awaiting a counteroffer on their industrial products. 21 July (Globe & Mail ROB) OTTAWA — International Trade Minister Michael Fortier says he’s confident Canada will be able to protect its sheltered dairy, egg and poultry industries from disruption if countries strike a deal on lowering global commercial barriers at crucial talks in Geneva this week. 20 July Zoellick: ‘Now or never’ for trade talks (UPI) “Progress on agriculture is paramount,” Zoellick said in a statement. “An open and fair system would create opportunities for developing country farmers to expand production, for consumers in all countries to lower prices, and for governments to save on the costs of subsidies, improving budgets “Both developing and developed economies stand to gain from lower barriers to goods and agriculture.” 17 July Within a week the Doha round of trade talks could be ready to serve or left to rot FROM hope to acrimony; from acrimony to apathy; and now back towards hope again: the Doha round of world trade talks has almost come full circle. Launching the round in Qatar’s capital city in November 2001, as the world reeled from terrorist outrages and the dotcom bust, trade ministers declared their determination to liberalise trade so that “the system plays its full part in promoting recovery, growth and development.” By 2003 the hope had gone: a ministerial meeting in Cancún, a Mexican resort, broke up early amid angry recriminations. Two years ago progress was so feeble that Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), suspended negotiations. 3 juin Le cycle de négociations de Doha et le commerce agricole (IEDM) Note économique sur les facteurs à l’origine de la crise alimentaire et des solutions pour y remédier par Marcel Boyer & Sylvain Charlebois Cela peut sembler contre-intuitif puisque les pays ont tendance à s’isoler pendant les temps difficiles, mais le défi que présente la crise alimentaire actuelle invite tous les pays à s’entendre sur des politiques communes dans l’objectif de promouvoir le commerce. Les politiques protectionnistes des pays industrialisés et les distorsions qu’elles provoquent dans les règles commerciales du secteur de l’agriculture sont des facteurs fondamentaux qui empêchent l’ajustement de la production et de la distribution agricole mondiale à une demande en croissance. Un environnement commercial plus libre permettrait une plus grande flexibilité et davantage d’innovation afin de s’adapter aux conditions du marché, comme le font toutes les autres industries. 29 May Does freer farm trade help poor people? THE global food crisis has shone a harsh spotlight on the consequences of government meddling in agriculture. Poor people go hungry, in part, because Americans pay their farmers to divert crops from food to fuel. But in at least two areas, the crisis has emboldened those who are sceptical of free markets in food. The first is “food security”. Politicians in rich and poor countries have seized on recent price spikes as proof that free farm trade is a risky business and self-sufficiency a worthy goal. The second area concerns the poor.

2 Comments on "WTO 2008-2012"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson July 30, 2008 at 8:00 pm ·

    (RCI) The federal government says it will seek bilateral trade accords in the wake of the collapse of the latest round of international trade liberalization negotiations within the framework of the World Trade Organization. Trade Minister Michael Fortier and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz say they’re “disappointed” by the latest failure but that Canada will be at the table if and when the talks resume, while acknowledging that this may take some time. The ministers suggests that more consensus should be found among lower-level officials before ministerial negotiations are again attempted. Mr. Fortier and Mr. Ritz says that in the meantime Canada must seek bilateral trade deals in the Americas and with emerging economies like China and India. But the Canadian Chamber of Commerce questions whether Canada has the economic clout to win concessions from other countries through bilateral negotiation the way the U.S. or EU can. And the Canadian Agri-Food Alliance says that success in Geneva could have meant $3 billion in additional exports for Canadian farmers.

  2. Guy Stanley April 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm ·

    UNCTAD’s role within the broad UN family (including WTO) is to stick up for developing countries, that is the bottom billion plus the other three or so. The issues raised in this document show among other things how the current conjuncture plays out in the relationships among the big multilateral agencies, particularly those which stick up mainly for the one per cent.
    The text of the UNCTAD document (state as “enabler” v state as “effective”) does no more than capture reality of many states today. In most states,–including some developing ones– the government is an “enabler”. In some it is even an effective enabler. Then there are the trade issues: “access” to food and pharma. In the absence of some effective international rules enabling a level of access to things populations need to survive there will be all the horrors we see on the news: resource wars, black market pharma, piracy, and misuse of commodity futures for speculation rather than insurance (same as credit default swaps by the way).
    The WTO, which was the first line of defence against much of these logjams, broke down over poor country access to rich country ag markets (Doha), everybody in the intellectual property world knows the cross-border provisions with respect to TRIPS (trade related IP) has broken down over access to pharma, but there is no consensus around a fix and anyway all solutions are hostage to a general settlement. UNCTAD has acted as a trade counsellor to developing countries and looked at ways governments can offset the sometimes divisive impacts of trade liberalization on fragile developing countries.
    The IMF which was supposed to ensure that huge, destabilizing currency imbalances did not destabilize global capital flows, failed and, by the way, probably gave in too easily in the 90s to the US about opening 3rd world capital accounts. UNCTAD pointed this out in its trade and development reports.
    The current financial crisis is notable for (a) the failure of the US to impose the Washington Consensus remedies on itself, (b) the failure of the WC remedies of austerity to be “effective” in “enabling” a market led recovery. (c) the demonstrated necessity of an “effective” state to be an “enabler” and (d) failure of any of the rich states to impose any “effective” solution of the “too big to fail” problem in banking. It seems to be normal for economic science under stress to add fervor to the promotion of failed concepts rather than revise them. Imagine then the anxiety of huge bureaucracies based on those concepts.
    Still, this is business as usual within the UN family, since none of the big sovereigns really wants an effective UN to “enable” the world to run better by curbing the excesses of harmful interests. But it would still be an error to trivialize these disputes over the technical wording of documents related to global “governance”. Such minutiae may seem trivial but they can mess up global cooperation for a long time. Guy Stanley

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