September 19, 2003


Poorer nations celebrate trade talks failure (Anil Netto, 9/19/03, Asia Times)

The failure of the talks is regarded by the developing nations in Africa and Asia as a signal of their arrival as a new force to be reckoned with in the global economic stakes. The collapse of the talks follows a similar breakdown in 1999 in Seattle, Washington and of a later meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Bangkok.

But there is a growing danger that the WTO will recede into the background, regarded by the developed nations as an irrelevant talking-shop for protesters, even as they negotiate the real business of international trade under divide-and-rule tactics to cut even more lopsided bilateral deals than in the past. There is already serious and growing concern about the tendency of developed nations to negotiate bilateral trade treaties with poorer countries of their choosing, at the time of their choosing, to their advantage.

The Cancun meetings collapsed when the world's poorer countries closed ranks and refused to discuss new issues until some basic issues such as agricultural reforms had been tackled. They refused to accept a proposal that would have meant only small cuts in developed nations' agricultural subsidies and that too only if developing nations agreed to open up on the new issues to allow foreign firms easier access into developing markets.

For now, the developing nations are celebrating their ability to stop the powerful European Union-United States-Japan juggernaut in its tracks. Countries such as Brazil, China and India flexed their muscle to draw impressive support from other developing nations, which represent more than half the world's population. Backed by vociferous campaigners and protestors outside, delegates argued that stalling the talks was a far better option for developing nations than reaching a lopsided agreement stacked in favor of developed nations.

It isn't easy, living at the End of History, to keep a country impoverished. We know after all just how to create a functional government, a dynamic economy, and a healthy society--the only thing standing between any nation and such a future is its own poor decisions. Like, for instance, trying to teach wealthy nations a lesson by refusing to liberalize trade. Even such leftist whackos as Paul Krugman recognize that free trade is beneficial to poor countries.And where does their "victory" leave them? Instead of using the power they had in these multilateral negotiations, they're now left on their own to negotiate bilateral agreements with far more powerful states like the US. What's to celebrate?

-No Can Do (Mother Jones)
-'THE CANCUN COLLAPSE: GOOD OR BAD FOR THE WORLDS POOR?: KATHARINE AINGER's reports from Cancun spark a vigorous discussion in our Globolog forum among the WTO's critics: PAUL KINGSNORTH, KEVIN WATKINS, and GEORGE MONBIOT (Open Democracy)

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2003 11:48 AM

Things never change. As the "Group of 77" was supposed to push the Third World's concerns, so with this. Of course, the G77 thing never worked, because, you know, they thought they had clout they did not.

Like here. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Posted by: Chris at September 19, 2003 1:38 PM

Mother Nature continues on course.

Posted by: genecis at September 19, 2003 8:54 PM

One simple thing that many second world nations could do, is codify laws and regulations governing private property, and make it easy for people to obtain title to their property.

Research has shown that there are trillions of dollars of equity locked up in second world nations, that cannot be used as capital, because the owners cannot prove that it's theirs, nor transfer ownership.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 20, 2003 3:52 AM