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G20+ and the WTO
Alex Steffen, 30 Dec 03

The New York Times today took the rare step of devoting its entire editorial column to a single issue: the need for the developed world to make concessions on eliminating subsidies (especially for agriculture) if world trade is to continue to grow more open.

"There was a time when the European Union and the United States could jointly dictate terms to the rest of the World Trade Organization, but not any more. Washington's betrayal of its free-trading principles outraged not only the poorest countries, but also some food-exporting allies such as Australia. The developing world lashed back. At Cancún, Brazil, India and China created a formidable bloc of 22 nations that rightly opposed proceeding on anything else until some of the more outrageous farm subsidies had been addressed."

But the NYT is understating things. Cancún wasn't just a bump in the road, it was a sign of tectonic shift. The emerging nations of the Group of 20+ (as it's now known) are quite clearly unwilling to continue to participate in a trade regime which requires them to be passive markets for developed world goods, exporters of raw materials, or at best, the site for low-paying sweatshop factories. And now, lead again by Brazil, they're forging a trade alliance with the European Union. But despite calls for a G20+ trade area, calls for further reform of the IMF and World Bank, and some bold moves on AIDS drugs and farm subsidies, the shape of trade to come is not yet clear. One thing's sure though - the old way is gone forever.

(Thanks, Bruce, for the links!)

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"World trade could be a powerful motor to reduce poverty, and support economic growth, but that potential is being lost. The problem is not that international trade is inherently opposed to the needs and interests of the poor, but that the rules that govern it are rigged in favour of the rich."

"Why have disagreements between rich and poor nations stalled the global trading system? Because vapid debates over “fair trade” obscure some inconvenient facts: First, notwithstanding their demands for equity, poor countries are more protectionist than advanced economies. Second, if rich nations cut their self-defeating agricultural subsidies, their own publics would benefit, but consumers in many poor countries would not. Finally, despite criticisms to the contrary, the WTO can help promote economic development in low-income countries—but only if rich nations let the global body do its job."

"A block of powerful developing nations should first take a page from the US Copyright Act of 1790 and enact national laws that explicitly protect their own rights only. It would not protect foreigners. Second, these nations should add a provision that would relax this exemption to the extent that developed nations really opened their borders. If we reduce, for example, the subsidy to agribusiness by 10 percent, then they would permit 10 percent of our copyrights to be enforced (say, copyrights from the period 1923 to 1931). Reduce the subsidy by another 10 percent, then another 10 percent could be enforced. And so on."

Posted by: smerkin on 30 Dec 03

"The fortunes of Brazil's development strategy are not exactly headline news in the industrialized world. But make no mistake, throughout the global South, all eyes are on Brazil. Achieving measurable gains in health, education, employment and government accountability, while accelerating socially and environmentally sustainable growth, is the hope of the early 21st century."

"The four scenarios in this report revolve around two critical uncertainties: (1) Mexico’s stance toward globalization (embracing and proactive, or reactive and submissive) and (2) conciencia and civic participation (ranging from paternalistic to pluralistic/democratic). Using these two uncertainties as the axes of a 2x2 scenario matrix yields premises for four different scenarios in the quadrants of the matrix."

"The Latin American left today is seemingly much stronger than it was half a decade ago, but not yet strong enough for the challenges that lie ahead. This could mean reversions. It can be argued that, on the whole, the left's experiences of government across the region show mostly positive results: full of creativity, responsive to the needs of the grassroots, offering greater transparency and subject to the permanent scrutiny of society, forced to give results, and aimed at the gestation of a 'governing citizenship'. For many parties, the experiences in government represent the richest aspect of their political practices. Yet these experiences have not always contributed (nor to the same degree)to generating an enduring political force, and they also run the danger of becoming routinised, if splendid, administrations that could exhaust themselves as truly alternative projects."

Posted by: smerkin on 30 Dec 03

"I may be putting words into Krugman's mouth, but what he is saying is that you can divide the world into people who will say things like, 'We're losing all our good jobs to India!' on the one hand and people who believe in a simple general equilibrium model (the famous 2x2x2 model) of trade on the other. International trade always looks like a better deal from a general equilibrium perspective than it does to those who do not have that perspective."

"We have so much creativity here - we gave birth to this. America is the cradle of IT. Now we are throwing the baby out with the bath with these trade agreements. I would cancel NAFTA and the WTO and any other international trade agreements and go back to bilateral trade which would be conditioned on worker's rights, which also deals with wage levels. So then the incentive wouldn't be there to try to slash labor costs in half by just moving the jobs out of the country."

"The biggest question of all is the one concerning the c-word. We have little difficulty in dealing, in theory at least, with the medium-sized issues: What should be done about the World Bank? How can the anti-union laws be reversed? But we have scarcely attempted, as a movement, to tackle the big issue: what should be done about capitalism? Whenever anyone in Paris announced that capitalism in all its forms should be overthrown, everyone cheered. But is this really what we want? And, if so, with what do we hope to replace it? And could that other system be established without violent repression?"

Posted by: smerkin on 30 Dec 03

oh also :D

Posted by: smerkin on 30 Dec 03

Don't forget the Guardian's kickAAS anti-agricultural subsidies blog at

Posted by: dragoon on 30 Dec 03

it looks like south asia beat south america to SAFTA :D

viva zapata!

Posted by: smerkin on 2 Jan 04

"tIHI, India — At least once a day in this village of 2,500 people, Ravi Sham Choudhry turns on the computer in his front room and logs in to the Web site of the Chicago Board of Trade."

Posted by: smerkin on 2 Jan 04

shared more equitably, there'd be more than enough goodies for everyone to get well-dosed and move pn to the levels where elegance and quality of life become measured by how little you need, not how much.
first things first. i'm starting to get a little tickling feeling inside that maybe i will see a leve global playing field in my lifetime, even without some of the transhumanist help my imagination has been all fired up these last days since coming to this lovely site.
reaction.........i can hardly handle letting go of the inner panic i may not have the time or health to accomplish my dreams before i die.
with nanotech and all the rest, i am staring to relax and live more irresponsibly in the present, paradoxically similar to how people react when they are told they have not long to live, and they start letting go of their dreams and get real tight with the ebbing drops of reality instead.
except it's the opposite, lol!
if i read anymore of this stuff, procrastination will re-occupy the pilot's seat, as when it ruled so powerfully during
can't go there, help!

Posted by: michael dunkley on 3 Jan 04



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