WTO (Negotiations, Regular Work, Leadership)

Trade Governance and Developing Countries: The Need for Effective Inter-Ministerial Coordination and Stakeholder Consultations for Trade Policy

The panel discussion organized at the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference by CUTS GRC jointly with CSEND, aimed to provide insights how developing countries can reap the benefits of trade. Despite international efforts to provide support for trade capacity building, developing, transition and least developed countries are often not able to improve their trade performance due to deficient policy coordination at the interministerial level and limited trade policy consultation with key stakeholders from private sector and civil society organisations.

“Development-friendly outcome of the Doha Round can provide solutions to the social and economic problems faced by developing countries in the wake of the global economic crisis”, said Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of UNCTAD while launching a book titled, Reforming the World Trade Organisation: Developing Countries in the Doha Round, authored by Faizel Ismail, Head of Delegation of South Africa to the WTO, and published jointly by CUTS and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.

Supachai also urged serious deliberations to consider the future shape of the WTO once the Doha Round is over. Supachai’s views were echoed by Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General CUTS International in his comment that the “time is ripe to address the WTO structural reform issues” because DDA is faltering and may take more than an year to conclude.

The book launched on the eve of the 7th Ministerial Conference of the WTO examines developing country perspectives regarding use of the Doha Round negotiations for addressing past imbalances and inequalities against the backdrop of an insider’s account of the WTO negotiations.

The author in his introductory speech humbly termed the book as a small contribution towards reforming the institution. It, however, came in for lavish praise by the dignitaries present. Supachai applauded Ismail for his suggestions on re-engineering the WTO so that it achieves the fundamental objective of promoting development while Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, South Africa, described the book colourfully as “chronicles of the role of developing countries in the WTO: written from the trenches”.

Mehta while concluding the event reminded everybody that WTO reform should not be an empty slogan. He acknowledged the efforts of the book in setting the ball rolling and providing a basis for generation of further momentum towards meaningful reform of the organisation.