September 10, 2003
The Guardian (UK)

World's Poor Take On the West

Little hope of help for developing countries as trade talks begin

by John Vidal, Larry Elliott and Charlotte Denny

Crucial global trade talks open in the luxury holiday resort of Cancun today with 146 countries squaring up for a bruising five days of negotiations . . .

Whereas previous trade rounds have been stitched up by the EU, the US and Japan, poor countries have roundly rejected a last-minute deal on agriculture from Washington and Brussels as inadequate.

Instead a coalition of developing countries, representing 60% of the world's farmers, has tabled its own far more ambitious proposal, which would substantially cut western farm subsidies - currently worth six times more than all global aid spending. . . .

Key issues

Agriculture - Developing countries want richer nations to cut huge farming subsidies

Industrial tariffs - The US wants to open developing world markets to exports, but states fear cheap imports will swamp infant industries

Global investment - EU wants WTO global rules putting foreign investors on same footing as local firms

Services - West wants free trade expanded into service sector, where its banks and financiers enjoy advantages

Special deals for poorer countries - Developing nations want concessions on onerous WTO rules and agreements


Enver Masud, "Corporate Globalization Threatens World's Poor, Middle Class," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2000

Enver Masud, "Deregulation Fiasco, Red Flag for Developing Countries," The Wisdom Fund, February 5, 2001

[The European Union and Japan are urging trade ministers to consider adding four new issues to the current round of treaty talks, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

Developing countries remain unconvinced.

The four topics include the contentious area of setting international rules on investment by multinational companies. The others are competition policy, improving transparency in government contracts and simplifying procedures surrounding cross-border transportation.--"WTO Considers Expanding Negotiations,"Associated Press, September 12, 2003]

Paul Blustein, " Economist's Challenge Puzzles Free-Trade Believers," Washington Post, February 26, 2004

Vandana Shiva, "The Indian Seed Act And Patent Act: Sowing The Seeds Of Dictatorship," Z Magazine, February 5, 2005

[40% of the EU budget was currently spent on agriculture--"Blair tells EU to change or fail," BBC News, June 23, 2005]

P. Sainath, "The Corporate Hijack of India's Water,", April 12, 2006

back button