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

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9781842775332: Behind the Scenes at the WTO: The Real World of International Trade Negotiations/Lessons of Cancun
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'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, Head of Global Advocacy and Policy Division, Christian Aid

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.

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About the Author:

Fatoumata Jawara is a freelance international trade and development analyst, currently working on the political dynamics of the World Trade Organisation and pursuing a masters degree at Cornell University. Prior to this, she was International Economics and Poverty Officer at the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR), and adviser to the Manicaland Development Association in Zimbabwe (1997 to 1999). From 1992 to 1994 she was Assistant Project Co-ordinator for the Women in Development Horticultural Programme sponsored by UNDP and the Ministry of Agriculture in The Gambia. She was a nominated member of the Gambia Women's Council.

Aileen Kwa is a trade analyst with Focus on the Global South, a policy research and activist organisation. She is currently based in Geneva, tracks WTO issues pertaining to developing countries and sends out analyses to civil society groups on the problems developing countries are experiencing in the negotiating process, as well as the implications of issues being negotiated. She is an expert in the area of agriculture and the WTO and has provided Geneva-based developing country delegates to the WTO with research and technical support in this area. She is the author of Power Politics in the WTO and numerous articles on trade negotiations. Prior to her work at Focus, she worked for the Centre for Environment, Gender and Development, an Asian regional women's NGO.

Review:

'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, Head of Global Advocacy and Policy Division, Christian Aid

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