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Behind the Scenes at the WTO: The Real World of International Trade Negotiations/Lessons of Cancun

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Behind the Scenes at the WTO: The Real World of International Trade Negotiations/Lessons of Cancun.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Fatoumata Jawara(Author) Aileen Kwa(Author)

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World hunger, jobs, the overall economic prospects of developing and developed countries alike are all being influenced by the international negotiations about trade, agriculture, services, investment and intellectual property rights going on at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Based on interviews with the participants, this remarkable book lifts the shroud of secrecy surrounding these ostensibly democratic negotiations.

What emerges is a disturbing account entirely at odds with the official picture of a rules-based consensus emerging out of multilateral trade discussions in which all WTO member countries are equal participants. In reality:

  • Closed doors rather than open access and public information is the preferred mode of negotiation;
  • Decisions are often being made without the full approval of developing countries;
  • The tiny delegations of the poorest and smallest countries have only a limited capacity to calculate in advance the implications of what they are being asked to sign up to;
  • More seriously still, there are instances of illegitimate pressures and inducements being offered by the US and EU delegations - including threats to report non-compliant Third World delegates to their superiors, and hints that aid to countries refusing to kow-tow may be withheld.

The revelations contained in this book are of enormous importance to all those concerned that international institutions should be more transparent and democratic, and that the rules being developed for the world economy should primarily be geared to solving the pressing humanitarian problems of poverty, hunger, jobs and improvements in the standards of living of all those being left behind by the process of globalization.

'This timely book effectively counters the myth that developing countries are well-served by the WTO and usefully exposes the often brutish methods employed by the world's powerful states to impose their agenda on the poorest.' Mark Curtis,Christian Aid'Jawara and Kwa have written the essential first chapter in what is sure to be the WTO's fascinating history' International Affairs, July 2004'Recounts what happened before, during, and the after the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001, exposing how the political and decision-making processes of the WTO really work and what its members really think...drawing on semistructured interviews with thirty-three Geneva-based missions to the WTO and with ten WTO Secretariat staff members..' Journal of Economic Literature'Behind the scenes at the WTO is a richly detailed look at how the United States and other developed countries exercise power in the World Trade Organization, from the controversial ministerial meetings at Doha, Qatar, in 2001 to the equally contentious Cancun meetings in 2003. Based on extensive interviews both with delegations from member countries and with staff in Geneva, it tells the raw truth about how the developed countries get their way despite some trappings of debate, negotiation and democracy.' Review of Radical Political Economics'A clearly-written view of WTO injustices.' Future Surveys

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Review Text

  • By William Podmore on 4 August 2009

    Fatoumata Jawara and Aileen Kwa are both trade analysts. In this brilliant and fascinating book, they show how the World Trade Organization [WTO] makes its decisions. They conducted in-depth interviews in 2002 with 33 Geneva-based missions to the WTO and with ten WTO Secretariat staff members, focusing on events before, during and after the 2001 Doha Conference.The WTO is the chief rule-making body for international trade, founded in 1995 and based in Geneva. It has 146 members, four fifths of them developing countries. It deals with issues of manufactured goods, agricultural products, textiles, services, intellectual products, and issues of investment and competition policy, with effects on jobs, incomes and services, especially health, education and water.410 of 512 WTO posts are held by people from developed countries, including 129 from France and 71 from Britain. Only 10 are from Africa. The authors write, "the Secretariat promotes further trade liberalisation in the WTO negotiations irrespective of, and at times at the expense of, the development needs and goals of developing country members."The authors show how the G7's representatives bully the developing nations' representatives and detail their illegitimate threats and bribes. The Labour government's representatives, as you would expect, always oppose the interests of the developing nations.How do the G7 operate? First, the US and EU confer and agree, then they meet with Japan and Canada, often with the WTO Secretariat - this is the Quadrilateral Group. Then they invite a wider group of about 30 representatives to `mini-ministerial' meetings, always excluding Cuba. These `mini-ministerial' meetings are unrepresentative, selective, never minuted, and have no agreed procedure or code of conduct.The Chair of the WTO's General Council in 2001 was Stuart Harbison (Hong Kong's Ambassador to the WTO, 1995-2002, a former UK colonial administrator). He imposed a Draft Ministerial Declaration which reflected the views not of the majority but of the Quadrilateral Group. He lied that `no one objected' to the first draft and claimed there was a consensus, in order to deny a vote. On the question of negotiating the key issues that the Quadrilateral Group wanted, Harbison lied that 50% were in favour, and 50% against.What does the Group want? It always pushes for maximum investor protection and unrestricted foreign investment. It always opposes all obligations on foreign companies to respect or support domestic rights. Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS] are a tax on knowledge paid by poor countries to rich companies, blocking, for example, the production of cheaper generic copies of patented drugs. The US and EU subsidies for their agricultural products wreck developing countries' farmers.The EU, the USA, Japan and Canada gain from the WTO; the great majority of the developing countries don't. As a 2000 OECD report concluded, "Liberalisation of trade in services within the GATS [General Agreement on Trade in Services] has not brought about specific tangible results for transition economies."The WTO serves the interests of capitalism, not the majority's interests. It is a tool in the hands of G7 states and corporations to rule the developing countries. It is a standing attack on democracy and national sovereignty.


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