FEATS Inception Meeting was held on 16 July 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland. The event was attended by capital-based representatives of the governments, private sector and CSOs from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, as well as representatives of Geneva missions of developed and developing countries, IGOs, and NGOs. This coincided with the launch meeting of CUTS GRC.
Valentine S. Rugwabiza, Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organisation, speaking on behalf of Pascal Lamy, the Director General, called CUTS a champion of the development interests of developing countries, and a champion of fair globalisation that creates opportunities for the most marginalised amongst developing countries. She was speaking at the launch of the CUTS Geneva Resource Centre, opened on 16 July 2008 at Geneva with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She stated that the inauguration of the CUTS Geneva Resource Centre as a pro-trade, pro-consumer, and most importantly, pro-development organisation is a truly good news for WTO and the trade and development community of Geneva. WTO has benefitted from the knowledge of the problems and limitations of developing countries of CUTS, and she considered it a daring step for Pradeep S Mehta, its Secretary General, to establish presence in Geneva in these unpredictable times. She was convinced that the new Centre was an urgently needed input to the Geneva processes to move forward a still fragile international trading system in particular in these days when failure of the Doha Round was simply not an option.
Lakshmi Puri, Acting Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD, speaking on behalf of Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Secretary General, added her voice to the well wishers of CUTS, stating that UNCTAD has had a long and fruitful relationship with CUTS, and most recently in UNCTAD XII in Accra three months ago. Africa’s development is a focus area for UNCTAD, and she was happy to see that CUTS GRC was starting its Geneva operations with a project with its focus on Africa. She was particularly appreciative of the work undertaken by CUTS on building productive capacities of developing countries as a pre-requisite for benefitting from trade liberalisation. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called Africa as the epicentre of a development emergency, and the Fostering Equity and Accountability in the Trading System (FEATS) project of CUTS Geneva can help UNCTAD resolve to change this state of affairs.
Friedrich von Kirchbach, Director, Market Development, International Trade Centre, representing Patricia Francis, the Executive Director, congratulated CUTS for the Geneva Centre, and offered to work together by creating synergies between many products of ITC that had similar objectives as the FEATS project of CUTS. He wished CUTS as much success in the next quarter century as it had achieved in the last.
Speaking at the start of the launch, Pradeep S. Mehta took the participants through the difficult but revealing period since the inception of CUTS in 1983 to its present role of an international, credible southern organisation, and called the opening of the Geneva Resource Centre a dream realised. In this iniquitous world, having an understanding of issues at the grassroots level, and working towards amelioration of the poorest of the poor has been the motivation to expand to so many areas of operations, spanning trade, economic development, consumer action, competition, regulation and investment.
Philippe Brusick, Chairman of the General Assembly of CUTS Geneva Resource Centre felt happy to represent CUTS in Geneva after a very long and productive association and explained the FEATS project, which includes research, advocacy and networking on trade and development issues in selected African countries.