New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
News >

World trade summit adopts fairer rules

AN AGREEMENT on world trade, reached on Saturday in Geneva, offers hope for a fairer system. A new balance of power has emerged in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as there are signs that rich and poor nations both now realise that it is in everyone’s interests to give fresh momentum to the negotiations.

After the breakdown of the WTO ministerial meeting at Cancùn, Mexico, in September, many thought that the discussions had become irrevocably deadlocked. But now developing countries, led by Brazil, India and South Africa, have shown that they can resist the pressure of the United States and the European Union to make unreciprocated concessions.

The US Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, described the accord as "a milestone. . . a crucial step for global trade". The EU Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy, said: "The time is past when the WTO was run by the most powerful nations in the world. They can no longer do whatever they want."

The developing nations believe that the US and EU have gone further than ever before in promising to remove export subsidies from agricultural products, which have enabled developed countries to undercut farmers in poor countries.

In return, developing countries have agreed to open their markets to a greater extent to the industrial products of rich countries, although safeguards will remain to protect infant industries from the harshest foreign competition.

The Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry, Kamal Nath, said: "We have closed the deal. . . This more than adequately addresses India’s concerns. Developed countries cannot, through artificial price mechanisms, gain access to Indian markets."

The French delegation initially resisted the agreement, on the grounds that it made too many concessions on agricultural subsidies. But it could not stop the making of a deal that could have wide-ranging implications for European farmers, if the proposals to reduce farm support in rich countries are carried through.

Much work now needs to be done to ensure that the new optimism is justified when the text of the agreement is finalised in Hong Kong in December next year. Interest groups in developed countries which see the agreement as a threat will be lobbying strongly.

Organisations, including Churches, that have been campaigning for a fairer system of world trade will need to keep up the pressure on governments to ensure that the Doha development round of trade negotiations does not falter again.

The British Government, which will host the G8 summit next year, could play a pivotal part in the process of ensuring a more equitable global trade policy. It should try to ensure that the vision of a global trade consensus, based on an equitable balancing of interests, becomes a reality.

The Revd Christopher Harrison is world-development adviser for the diocese of Derby.

www.wto.org

Job of the week

Professor of Divinity

London and Home Counties

Gresham CollegeFounded 1597 Gresham Professor of Divinity Gresham College has provided free public lectures for over 400 years in the City of London and now operates worldwide via the internet. Fo...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Finding life over death

Finding life over death

Denise Inge, who died on Easter Day this year, discovered that her home was built over a charnel house. This prompted her to write a book exploring the challenge of living well in the face of mortality  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Are foodbanks an effective way of dealing with poverty?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Fighting inequality and corruption in the world

Efforts are being made to combat corruption and sharp practice in global finance. Peter Selby has seen this at first hand  Subscribe to read more

Mon 24 Nov 14 @ 19:00
Give Church Times as a gift this Christmas & get two Dave Walker gifts worth £12.98! http://t.co/3ZIw4HO5wz http://t.co/jTABQyQuCS

Mon 24 Nov 14 @ 16:15
Give Church Times as a gift this Christmas & you'll get two Dave Walker gifts worth £12.98! http://t.co/3ZIw4HO5wz http://t.co/FBHh03iJ2L