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

Anglican Chaplain

North West

EVERYONE DESERVES THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A FRESH STARTWITH YOUR HELP THEY CAN ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN HMP Altcourse, Liverpool £29,000 - £30,700 per annum Full time (35 hours per week) HMP Altcou...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Suppression, secrecy, and survival: the Hidden Christians of Japan

Suppression, secrecy, and survival: the Hidden Christians of Japan

A new book explores Christianity in Japan. Its author, John Dougill, talks to Malcolm Doney  Subscribe to read more

Top comment

One Church’s mission, but many opportunities

The Renewal and Reform programme needs a wide range of approaches to be successful, argues Andrew Lightbown  Subscribe to read more

Mon 26 Sep 16 @ 17:27
The C of E colludes with a sexualised culture in intruding on gay clergy, says Peter Selby https://t.co/fh25zARZMP

Mon 26 Sep 16 @ 17:23
UPDATED: US and Russia exchange barbs as Syrian children die in Aleppo onslaught https://t.co/M6mAd0gnJs